State Representative, Fiona McFarland, described the addictive nature of social media as “digital fentanyl” on the Florida House floor on Wednesday as Florida House lawmakers passed a bill to ban children under 16 from using social media platforms.
According to Politico, the new legislation would prohibit anyone under the age from creating a social media account and require platforms to delete current accounts owned by minors.
Why Lawmakers Want To Ban Social Media For Children Under 16
Lawmakers suggest these social media platforms are addictive and harmful to the mental health of children. As well as the technology can serve as a child target for sexual predators. They believe the new restrictions would curb cases of bullying, depression, and suicide tied to social media.
State Representative, Tyler Sirois, says these platforms are:
Stimulating a chemical reaction in our kids to keep them hooked and to keep them coming back for more — and manipulating their behaviors.
How Lawmakers Plan To Implement This Ban
Under the new legislation, social media platforms would be required to perform an age verification method. Companies would also prohibit minors under 16 years old from joining the platform and delete the accounts of existing young users.
If passed, the new legislation would also allow parents to take legal action against social media platforms that don’t take down children’s accounts. The possibility of receiving up to $10,000 in damages and court fees.
What Are The Opposing Views Of This Ban?
According to Politico, some claim the law will take away the rights of parents to decide if their children can use social media and violate teens’ First Amendment rights.
They also argued that a ban would restrict access to friendships and cause teen influencers to lose out on money.
Although lawmakers have refused to name specific social media platforms they would ban under this proposal, they added new language prohibiting platforms with “addictive, harmful, or deceptive features that are meant to grab users and keep them engaged.”
Officials of Meta claim the amendment introduces legal uncertainties and believes their platforms do not fit the definition, as reported by Politico.
Where Have We Seen This Before?
Florida is one of several states to have taken action against social media and its use among teenagers. Utah became the first state to ban people under 18 from using social media without a guardian’s consent.
And, on Wednesday, New York City declared social media a “public health hazard.”
The bill passed the Florida House with a vote of 106-13. As far as the next step for the bill, it will now head to the Senate.