Florida Approves Law Banning Social Media for Children under 14


Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a law on Monday that bans children under 14 from having social media accounts in the state.

The measure requires 14- and 15-year-olds in Florida to get parental permission before they can sign up for personal social media accounts.

Supporters say the bill protects children from potential online harms, including mental health and privacy threats.

Critics have said the law could violate the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. Some opponents have said they believe parents – not the government – ​​should decide what restrictions are best for their child. For example, Facebook's parent company Meta opposed the law.

The Florida legislature passed the law earlier this month. This was the second version of the measure. The first version, which passed the Florida legislature in February, would ban children under 16 from social media entirely.

FILE – Former Republican presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, speaks during a campaign event in Lexington, SC, on June 2, 2023 (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr., File)

DeSantis vetoed that version of the bill, saying he believed it was too restrictive on parents' rights. But the governor's office worked with legislators to come up with a new measure they could support. The new law leaves it up to parents to decide whether their 16- and 17-year-old children can sign up for social media accounts.

In a statement, DeSantis said research has repeatedly shown that social media services can harm children in several key ways. The law is designed to give parents “greater ability to protect their children,” he said.

This law is scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2025. But experts say the measure could face a legal challenge. Challenges In the court.

DeSantis noted that another bill he signed two years ago was recently rejected by a federal appeals court. That law banned employers from requiring training sessions that included discussions of race, diversity and other issues. The appeals court ruled that such training methods violated employers' constitutional free speech rights.

The new legislation was guided through the Florida House of Representatives by Republican Speaker Paul Reiner. At a bill-signing ceremony at a school, Rainer said that a child, whose brain is still developing, “doesn't have the ability to know that they're developing.” sucked in in drug addiction Technologies.” Because of this, he said, “we have to take steps for them.”

The bill does not name any specific social media service. But it says it targets social media sites by using tools to keep users online longer. This measure does not cover services that primarily provide email, messaging, or texting services.

The law requires social media companies to permanently delete personal information collected from closed accounts. And it lets parents file civil suits against services that fail to do so.

Several US states have considered similar legislation. In March 2023, Utah became the first state to enact a law covering the use of social media by children. Measures were soon taken in Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio, and Texas. Many other states are also developing new rules.

Arkansas law requires parents Agreement Creating new social media accounts for minors. A federal judge blocked the law in August. The judge ruled that the law was probably unconstitutional.

Florida has implemented additional measures aimed at protecting children from potential technological harm. Last year, it became the first state to strictly ban phones in schools. The law requires all public schools in Florida to ban students' cellphone use and block social media services during class.

I'm Brian Lynn.

The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse reported on this story. Brian Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.

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words in this story

challenge – N. something difficult that tests one's ability or determination

Diversity – N. a situation in which a variety of things or people are involved in something

get into something – very informal phrase Getting involved in a situation you don't want to be involved in

Addiction – adj. The problem of not being able to stop doing or taking something because you are dependent on it

Agreement -N. Permission


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