Florida House Approves Bill To Prohibit Social Media Access For Children Under 16

Source: Freepik

Imagine a world where teenagers are banned from the internet. Cyberbullying will drop, kids can have a healthier self-esteem, and moms will definitely be happy. But that also means less exposure to the world and its positive opportunities.

Well, this scenario may become a reality soon. Florida just approved a bill to prevent teens under 16 from accessing social media. Is this a great idea? What repercussions could this have? Is there a better option? Let’s explore this news and uncover the answers.

Florida Restricts Minors From Social Media

Florida’s House of Representatives accepted a new law that stops teens from using social media. They approved the bill on Wednesday, and it applies to minors younger than 16. Some people find this disruptive because almost 90% of teens already use social media.

Source: Freepik

Nevertheless, TikTok content creators and Instagram lovers must now log off until they’re 16 or older. Will there be repercussions? No one knows yet. However, these lawmakers claim the new bill is for the kids’ protection.

“This Is About Protecting Children” – Paul Renner

Most teens depend on social media for entertainment and communication. In fact, platforms like TikTok are dominated by these younger teens. But the legislators say it’s for the best. They claim that social media presents more negative side effects than the positives.

Source: Florida Politics

Republican House Speaker Paul Renner summarized the reason for the shocking ban. He said, “This is about protecting children from addictive technology, and what we know harms them.” Essentially, social media is a drug, and they’re trying to detox kids.

Is Social Media Really That Addictive?

Some people avoid spending time on social media to escape its addictive effects. But is it really that bad, or are people overreacting? Several studies show this problem is real. Social media can be as addictive as drugs.

Source: Unsplash/camilo jimenez

Harvard University found that social media activates parts of the brain that light up for addictive substances. Furthermore, State Rep. Fiona McFarland called social media “Digital Fentanyl”. She claimed most adults struggle with this addiction. Sadly, she’s right.

70% Of People Have A Social Media Addiction

Studies show that around 70% of adults and teens struggle with social media addiction. These people spend an average of 1 hour and 40 minutes daily scrolling through videos and pictures. While it may seem harmless, this addiction is dangerous.

Source: Unsplash/Mika Baumeister

Spending an unhealthy amount of time on social media can cause anxiety and depression. Isolation and irritability are also some additional effects for teens and adults. So, the concern for teens’ mental health makes sense.

So What Happens To These Kids’ Existing Accounts?

The new law affects all minors under age 16. But what happens to those already on social media? Will they be forced to go offline or instantly blocked? Well, the law instructs all social media platforms to delete their accounts immediately.

Source: Freepik

It doesn’t matter whether the account belongs to a famous influencer with millions of followers. As long as it belongs to a Floridian younger than 16, it gets deleted. The new bill also requires these platforms to implement stricter features. Users must now verify their age with documents before opening an account.

People Aren’t Happy About This New Bill

Although the reason for the law is valid, people argue the execution is extreme. Critics of Florida’s new bills say that it infringes on the teens’ constitutional and data privacy rights. Democratic State Rep. Ashley Gantt also noted that the house isn’t fit to make this decision.

Source: Florida Politics

Gantt explains that she agrees with the bill. However, parents should be responsible for deciding what their kids do online. Making this decision robs parents of the choice when raising their kids.

Even Facebook Had Something To Say

Everyone expressed their concerns with the new bill. Surprisingly, Facebook came to say a few words, too. More precisely, Caulder Harvill-Childs represented Meta in court. Meta is the parent company of Facebook after they changed their name.

Source: LinkedIn/Caulder Harvill-Childs/Wikimedia/Nokia621

The spokesman said that many teens use social media to stay in touch. These apps also help them gather information about church gatherings, part-time jobs, and more. Disconnecting them from social media partially removes them from society.

The Bigger Problem With This Bill

Meta’s representative also presented some interesting points about the new law. He explained that it requires new social media users between 13 and 73 to provide sensitive information. How sensitive is this information?

Source: Unsplash/Towfiqu barbhuiya

Users will be required to upload their birth certificate or private identification online. What’s worse is that third-party organizations perform this verification. If implemented, it could violate people’s right to privacy and data protection, according to State Rep. Ashley Gantt.

When Will The New Law Be Effective?

Florida has approved the law, but does that mean it’s effective right away? Actually, the legislation needs to enter Florida’s state senate for final considerations. In this phase, several people will provide their reasons why the law should stay or be removed.

Source: Florida Senate

While some believe it won’t be implemented, others are worried. This fear comes from the fact that Republicans dominate Florida’s senate. These people are the same ones who approved the bill in the first place. So, there’s a chance it might get accepted.

A Major Problem With Banning Teens Online

This news took the internet by storm and has received many opinions. Amongst them are people concerned with enforcing the law. What stops teens from accessing social media through other means?

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Solen Feyissa

There’s the possibility of sharing accounts with an older person. They could bypass some websites’ requirements or exploit some other loophole. Hundreds of websites exist, and having them spend money for stricter standards may be a complex request.

What Happens Now?

For now, Florida awaits the final arguments from the state senate for approval. If this bill becomes law, teens under 16 will lose their accounts permanently. Despite the benefits it brings, it also carries some noteworthy issues.

Source: Twitter/RonDeSantisFL

The glaring problem with this rule may prevent it from being implemented. Asking companies to employ stricter rules that involve submitting documents may be too much. What do you think about this new bill? Is it needed, or will it create more harm than good?

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Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

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