UNITED STATES NEWS

Florida gets closer to banning social media for kids under 16

Feb 22, 2024, 11:57 AM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is on the verge of passing one of the nation’s most restrictive bans on minors’ use of social media after the state Senate passed a bill Thursday that would keep children under the age of 16 off popular platforms regardless of parental approval.

The measure now goes back to the state House, where the speaker has made the issue his top priority during the legislative session that ends March 8. Still, critics have pointed to similar efforts in other states that have been blocked by courts.

The bill targets any social media site that tracks user activity, allows children to upload material and interact with others, and uses addictive features designed to cause excessive or compulsive use. Supporters point to rising suicide rates among children, cyberbullying and predators using social media to prey on kids.

“We’re talking about businesses that are using addictive features to engage in mass manipulation of our children to cause them harm,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Erin Grall.

Other states have considered similar legislation, but most have not proposed a total ban. In Arkansas, a federal judge blocked enforcement of a law in August that required parental consent for minors to create new social media accounts.

Supporters in Florida hope that if the bill becomes law, it would withstand legal challenges because it would ban social media formats based on addictive features such as notification alerts and autoplay videos, rather than the content on their sites.

But opponents say it blatantly violates the First Amendment and that it should left to parents, not the government, to monitor children’s social media use.

“This isn’t 1850. While parents show up at school board meetings to ban books, their kids are on their iPads looking at really bad stuff,” said Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo.

He sarcastically said lawmakers have other options if they want to parent other people’s children.

“Let’s have a bill that encourages engaging with your children, cooking dinner, sitting at a table together, making eye contact, calling grandma to see if she’s OK once in a while.” he said.

The state Senate passed the bill on a 23-14 vote, with a mix of Democrats and Republicans on both sides of the issue. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has expressed some skepticism of the legislation as currently written.

DeSantis said he understood that the platforms could be harmful to teenagers, but that parents need to play a role in monitoring use.

“We can’t say that 100% of the uses are bad because they’re not,” DeSantis said at an Orlando-area news conference. “I don’t think it’s there yet, but I hope we can get there in a way that answers parents’ concerns.”

Some parents also have mixed feelings.

Angela Perry, a mother from central Florida, said she understands the rationale behind bill, and that she and her husband didn’t let their daughter onto any major platforms until she turned 15. But she believes it should be up to every parent to make that decision based on the maturity of their children.

“Whatever happened to parental rights?” Perry said. “You are already selecting books my child can read at school. That is fine to a certain extent. But now you are also moving into their private life as well. It’s becoming intrusive.”

The Florida bill would require social media companies to close any accounts it believes to be used by minors and to cancel accounts at the request of a minor or parents. Any information pertaining to the account must be deleted.

___

Associated Press writer Mike Schneider in Orlando contributed to this report.

United States News

FILE - Unsold 2024 Escalade utility vehicles sit in a row outside a Cadillac dealership on June 2, ...

Associated Press

With US vehicle prices averaging near $50K, General Motors sees 2nd-quarter profits rise 15%

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. customers who bought a new General Motors vehicle last quarter paid an average of just under $49,900, a price that helped push the company’s net income 15% above a year ago. And GM Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson said he doesn’t see his company cutting prices very much, despite industry analysts’ […]

26 minutes ago

FILE - In this July 27, 2021 file photo, Simone Biles, of the United States, watches gymnasts perfo...

Associated Press

Biles, Osaka and Phelps spoke up about mental health. Has anything changed for the Paris Olympics?

Lydia Jacoby was a breakout star in the pool for the United States at the last Summer Games, earning a gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and a relay silver. Part of what comes to mind from those heady days in Tokyo? “People talking about post-Olympic depression,” she said. She was 17 at the time, […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Harris to visit battleground Wisconsin in first rally as Democrats coalesce around her for president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris is making her first visit to a battleground state Tuesday after locking up enough support from Democratic delegates to win her party’s nomination to challenge former President Donald Trump, two days after President Joe Biden dropped his reelection bid. As the Democratic Party continues to coalesce around her, […]

2 hours ago

China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, center, hosts an event for Mahmoud al-Aloul, left, vice chairman ...

Associated Press

Hamas and Fatah sign declaration in Beijing on ending yearslong rift as war rages in Gaza

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a declaration in Beijing on ending a yearslong rift, Chinese state media said Tuesday, taking a step toward potentially resolving the deep divide between the sides as the war in Gaza rages on. The declaration by the two heavyweights of Palestinian politics — and […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura near Lake Charles, La., ...

Associated Press

Data shows hurricanes and earthquakes grab headlines but inland counties top disaster list

Floyd County keeps flooding and the federal government keeps coming to the rescue. In July 2022, at least 40 people died and 300 homes were damaged when the eastern Kentucky county flooded. It was the 13th time in 12 years that the rural county was declared a federal disaster. These are disasters so costly that […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Democratic Presidential candidate Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, center, greets people as he to...

Associated Press

In Washington state, Inslee’s final months aimed at staving off repeal of landmark climate law

SILVERDALE, Wash. (AP) — Standing at a transit center near four new wireless bus charging stations in a small community west of Seattle, Gov. Jay Inslee told transit and city leaders where money to pay for them — more than $1 million — came from. “It’s possible only because of the Climate Commitment Act,” Inslee […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

Florida gets closer to banning social media for kids under 16