Allow Tennessee parents to protect children
4 mins read

Allow Tennessee parents to protect children

Giving parents more power to protect children online is a winning political issue that transcends partisan lines.


  • Patrick T. Brown (@PTBwrites) is a fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center. Brad Wilcox is a Future of Freedom Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies.

In polarized America, it can sometimes feel like there isn't much that can bring progressives and conservatives together.

But one threat is increasingly keeping parents from all walks of life up at night – figuring out how to keep their child safe online, and prevent social media content from having an undue influence on their child's well-being. A new report Shows that help parents protect their children online are extremely popular with Tennessee voters.

A national survey of two of our organizations found 86% Many parents agree that it is “too easy” for children to find explicit material online. and a latest poll The University of Michigan revealed that parents' top two concerns about their children's well-being were screen time and monitoring social media.

This is what the two parental rights bills do

Tennessee's recent growth, economic dynamism and family-friendly culture have made the state one of the best places in the country to raise a family. But parents do not need to be tech experts to be able to raise their children in a healthy way. recently introduced Protection of Children from Social Media Act (House Bill 1891/Senate Bill 2097), which would require social media companies to obtain permission from a minor's parent before allowing them to open an account, would be a welcome start.

Another major bill recently introduced in Tennessee is Protect Tennessee Miners Act (House Bill 1614/Senate Bill 1792), which would require Internet users to verify their age to access online pornography. Almost every parent has a story of a child who accidentally stumbled upon pornographic material or explicit images from a mistyped Google search, and Bill's approach is incredibly popular.

In our survey, four out of five Tennesseeans said they somewhat or strongly support the idea of ​​requiring age-verification to view sexually explicit material online, including a large majority of Democrats, Republicans and political independents. Is included. And nearly a dozen states from Virginia to Montana have passed laws to keep Internet porn behind age limits — a political no-brainer.

Children should be supervised when going online

But in addition to online pornography, parents are struggling with how to ensure their children engage with social media and the internet in a healthy way. From cyberbullying to concerns about mental health, parents are often left bewildered by the range of user settings and options to protect them. And most of today's popular apps, such as TikTok and Snapchat, use algorithmic content and direct messaging that make traditional content-based filters inadequate.

More: How TN Democratic, GOP representatives voted on House TikTok bill that could ban the app in the US

To address this, Tennessee's social media bill requires platforms to provide parents with reasonable means to monitor their child's account, including giving them clear access to privacy settings and other measures. Tennessee should go further, providing parents with administrator-level access, allowing them to see what their kids are watching, who they're sending private messages to, and what ads they're being targeted by. Has been done Many parents who trust their children to do the right thing want more confidence that their child is not turning to self-harm, violence, or addictive materials before it is too late.

Giving parents more power to protect children online is a winning political issue that transcends partisan lines. In our survey, only 17% — and 12% of Republican-leaning parents — said the problem of helping children navigate and use technology “is not a problem the government should try to solve.”

Parents will always bear the ultimate responsibility for raising their children and keeping them safe online. but given Power With social media impacting the lives of America's kids, parents need the right tools to live up to the charge.

Patrick T. Brown (@PTBwrites) has a partner Center for Ethics and Public Policy, Brad Wilcox is Future of Freedom Fellows at the Institute for Family Studies,

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