2024 Florida Legislative session preview: Social media
Lawmakers push for greater restrictions on social media access and minors.
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner (R-Flagler) took the stage at the Capital City’s Tiger Bay Club before Christmas, to speak on what legislation he would like to see go through the legislature—and social media was at the forefront.
“We gotta think about kids," said Renner. "We tell them they can’t drink until they’re 18, they can’t smoke until they’re 18, they can’t get tattoos or earrings without their parents’ consent, all of these things.”
Renner said the idea of children having access to the same social platforms, and content, as adults doesn’t sit right with him.
“We need to let kids be kids. We need to let them grow in a place that's safe and where they're well educated and protected from all the people out there that have other ideas for them or want to shape them in a way that’s not age appropriate."
Measures to correct the issue have been filed by lawmakers of both parties
A bill (HB 207) filed by Democratic Representative Michele Raynerof Hillsborough and Pinellas County would require platforms to disclose policies and provide disclaimers to users under the age of 18 about certain features like auto play or infinite scrolling.
The measure would also ban most schools in Florida from using or having social media accounts and no longer require students to participate in them. It’s the second year Rayner has filed the bill.
“It provides guidelines, it provides accountability, and it ensures that the children of the state of Florida will be protected," said Rayner. "Social media companies that operate within this state, will meet the guidelines to know that our children are being safe on social media.”
Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Brevard) has supported efforts to crack down on minors and social media in the past. Last year, he derided what he saw as social media platforms becoming tools for “social isolation.”
“You see an increased rate of bullying," Sirois said during a House committee meeting. "You see an increased rate of suicide. We’ve had whistleblowers report to Congress about what these platforms are doing to the body image, particularly of young girls as it relates to their self-esteem.”
The House Speaker’s push for immediate action against social media comes off the heels of a hefty social media ban by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
The governor banned K-12 students from using apps like TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter in schools. The effort also comes amid heightened scrutiny of the impact of social media on children.
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