(USNewsBreak.com) – Florida is no stranger to taking controversial proactive measures regarding children living in the state. The most recent target the state has in the crosshairs is social media.
Florida’s House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday, January 25, that would ban children under 16 from using social media. The legislation doesn’t outline which platforms, though it mentions those that track user activity, allow interactions, upload media, and contain addictive features.
Florida children under the age of 16 would be banned from popular social media platforms regardless of parent approval under a bill passed by the House on Wednesday, a measure that is the top priority for the chamber's speaker. https://t.co/xZE5350pkx
— WEAR ABC 3 (@weartv) January 25, 2024
Republican Rep. Tyler Sirois sponsored the bill, which passed the House in a 106-13 vote. Several Democrats voted with Republicans in support of the measure. Sirois said that social media platforms are doing nothing more than “taking advantage of kids growing up,” something they do “to keep them hooked … with every push notification.” According to The Washington Post, Democratic Rep. Michele Rayner, a civil rights lawyer, said this is one “fight” she “will take every day and twice on Sundays.” She had previously sponsored similar legislation.
Social media has led to problems for teens that past generations didn’t have to face, namely cyberbullying and stalking. Plus, there’s a real danger of predators lurking and taking advantage of their vulnerability. A Pew Research Center study noted that around 95% of minors between the ages of 13 and 17 have used social media.
Not everyone was on board with the legislation. Some said the proposed measure would violate free speech principles. Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel for NetChoice, said that it’s nothing more than an “unconstitutional internet surveillance program,” according to WaPo. Meta is asking the state legislators to reconsider and put the power in the parents’ hands, allowing them to decide whether their children should use social media apps.
Observers expect the legislation to face steep legal challenges, much like similar proposals in other states have already done.
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