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US State Enacts Law Prohibiting Social Media Use for Children Under 14

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed into law a measure restricting access to social media platforms for minors under the age of 16, citing growing concerns about the impact of these platforms on teenagers in the United States.

Under the new law, individuals aged 13 and younger are prohibited from creating social media accounts in the state, while those aged 14 and 15 will require parental consent to access such platforms.

Despite acknowledging the concerns surrounding social media, the legislation has sparked debates over free speech, particularly as conservative state governments advocate for controversial “parental rights” bills, especially regarding education.

According to DeSantis, lawmakers aim to assist parents in navigating the challenges of raising children in today’s digital age. Speaker of the Florida House Paul Renner highlighted the risks posed by social media platforms, including exploitation by traffickers and predators, and their detrimental impact on children’s mental well-being.

Although most social media platforms have age restrictions, enforcement remains lax, prompting increased worries nationwide about their influence on child development and education.

While the law aims to give parents more control, critics argue it sets a precedent for government interference in online free speech.

DeSantis, who championed the legislation, advocates for expanded parental rights, particularly in educational matters. Similar parental rights bills in Florida and other states seek to involve parents more in contentious topics, notably LGBTQ education in schools.

While the new law grants parents oversight, opponents argue for a hands-off approach by the government, advocating for a balance between parental rights, privacy concerns, and freedom of expression.

DeSantis had previously vetoed a stricter version of the social media ban, emphasizing the need for a nuanced approach to address competing interests surrounding parental rights, privacy, and free speech.



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