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Florida Enacts Law: Social Media Restrictions for Under 16

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken a significant step in addressing concerns over children's online safety by signing a bill aimed at regulating social media usage among minors. The legislation, passed by the state's Republican-led legislature, imposes strict limitations on minors' access to social media platforms.

Under the new law, children under the age of 14 are banned from accessing social media altogether. Additionally, 14- and 15-year-olds are required to obtain parental consent before using such platforms. Proponents of the bill argue that these measures are crucial in protecting minors from potential risks to their mental health posed by excessive social media use.

Key provisions of the legislation mandate social media platforms to terminate the accounts of individuals under the age of 14 and those aged 14-15 who do not have parental consent. To enforce these regulations, platforms must implement a third-party verification system to screen out underage users.

Governor DeSantis emphasized the harmful effects of social media on children, stating that the legislation provides parents with greater control over their children's online activities. He believes that the law will empower parents to safeguard their children from the negative impacts associated with prolonged social media exposure.

However, critics have raised concerns regarding potential violations of First Amendment rights, arguing that parents, rather than the government, should determine their children's online presence regardless of age. Meta, the parent company of popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, has opposed the legislation, citing privacy concerns and limitations on parental discretion.

Despite these criticisms, the bill is set to become law on July 1, indicating a significant shift in how Florida addresses children's online safety. Similar measures have been adopted by other states, such as Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas, suggesting a growing trend towards regulating minors' access to social media nationwide.

March 26, 2024 12:49 p.m. 9930

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