Florida Enacts Law Restricting Social Media Use for Minors

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law on Monday aimed at restricting access to social media networks for minors under the age of 16, amid growing concerns about the platforms’ impact on youth in the United States.

The law, which will take effect in January next year in the southeastern state, stipulates that those under 14 years old will not be able to open an account on any of the social media networks. Teenagers aged 14 to 15 will need parental approval to register on these platforms.

According to Agence France-Presse, the Republican governor said while signing the bill, “We are trying to help parents deal with a very complex issue.”

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, the main supporter of the bill, welcomed the law’s passage.

“We know… that the number of crimes committed against children on social media is higher than anywhere else,” he said, adding, “We also know that social media has a devastating impact on the mental health of our children.”

Most platforms set the minimum age for opening an account at 13, but it is easy to circumvent this rule.

Some critics of the law argue that monitoring their children’s social media use is up to parents, not authorities.

Others are concerned about the potential violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of expression.

Paul Renner dismissed these arguments, stating that platforms create harmful addiction for underage users. He said that “Constant checking, likes, and hearts that stir excitement” among users “encourage staying online longer.”

Ron DeSantis had previously rejected another bill banning social media use for those under 16, arguing that the text did not adequately consider parents’ wishes.

The governor, who was an unsuccessful candidate in the Republican presidential nomination race for the upcoming elections, has often argued that parents should have greater control over decisions regarding their children, especially in education matters.

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