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New Florida Bill Will Restrict Children Below 16 From Social Media

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By Christian Webster - - 5 Mins Read
A young child using a phone during bedtime
Photo | Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock

As the Florida House finalizes with votes on the new bill passed this Wednesday, it is certain that Florida children under 16 will no longer be allowed to use social media platforms, notwithstanding parental approval.


This bill was passed to target the mental health of children and protect them from online predators.


The vote, which ended with a total of 106-13 for the bill, got quite the support from several democrats.


Arguments were dropped about how much social media affects children, seeing as adults are often captivated and end up getting addicted to their screens more or less than children.


These kids are exposed to sexual predators, addiction, cyberbullying, and so on, which can result in depression, suicide, and other sorts of problems.


Although the platforms where the ban would take effect have not been listed yet, it would target those platforms where children can post things, interact with others, and have additive features that keep these kids glued to their screens for hours.


The bill would certainly not affect those apps mainly for sending messages between people.


Michelle Rayner, a democratic representative from Florida, faced intense criticism after posting her opinion on the recently passed bill.


The 42-year-old rep stated that regardless of her age the comments still got to her although she was able to move on, what then are kids who get bullied on these platforms regularly going through?


Aside from Florida, some other states have tried to make the same law, but most did not give a total ban.


A judge in Arkansas has prevented the enforcement of a law that mandates parental consent for minors to open new accounts.


Meanwhile, in Utah, a new law prohibits individuals under the age of 18 from using social media without a guardian's permission.


The law also restricts minors from using social media accounts between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am. However, an industry trade group is currently suing Utah for this law.


Several platform owners are concerned about the ban, including Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms, who urged the House to seek another solution, such as requiring parental approval to download apps.


The social media giant also wants the issue addressed on a federal level rather than a patchwork of different state laws.


Meta representative Caulder Harvill-Childs wrote to the House Judiciary Committee, "Many teens today leverage the internet and apps to responsibly gather information and learn about new opportunities, including part-time jobs, higher education, civic or church gatherings, and military service.”


She further stated, “By banning teens under 16, Florida risks putting its young people at a disadvantage versus teens elsewhere.” 


People generally believe that laws are created to promote the public good. However, some controversies still surround the 13-year ban imposed on DJ Marley.


She gained popularity in her DJ career after posting a short video online.


Recently, she posted on Twitter that she understands the reason for the ban but also believes that all children should be considered, especially those who have benefited greatly from social media platforms like herself.


Amidst all the controversies, Republican House Speaker Paul Renner, who has made the issue his top priority, said the Florida bill should withstand constitutional scrutiny because it targets social media's addictive features rather than its content.


“It's a situation where kids can't stay off the platforms, and as a result of that, they have been trapped in an environment that harms their mental health,” Renner told reporters after the vote.