Social media banned for kids under 14: Is Florida right?


Fact Box

  • On March 25, 2024, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting children under 14 from holding social media accounts. Minors 14-and-15 years old are allowed access only with parental consent. 
  • The bill, HB 3, doesn’t outright ban specific platforms but only minor access to social media designed to keep users on, such as infinite scrolling, auto-played video content, push notifications, and live-streaming.
  • Some argue the bill is “unconstitutional” and a violation of First Amendment rights, while supporters claim it is in direct relation to social media’s “addictive features” and note how online predators can target children, making social media a dangerous place that can also lead to “higher rates of depression, self-harm, and even suicide.” 
  • Many states have been working on implementing bills to protect children’s safety online, some like Florida and others in the form of safety assessments. Connecticut, Vermont, New Mexico, and Maryland are just a few to make changes within the last year. 
  • A May 2023 Yahoo News/YouGov poll revealed 76% of Americans don’t think social media is appropriate for children under 13. However, 53% thought around 17 was a better time to use social platforms.

Rob (No)

Social media is an integral part of life in today's world, a virtual necessity for the functioning of society. This means measures should be implemented to protect kids on social media rather than prohibiting them from access altogether. We can't deny the influence social media has on the social development of kids in the current world. However, banning kids under 14 from all social media in Florida or other states while their peers in other areas around the country can access it will only isolate them more. The interactions and engagement found online are critical for their social development in today's digital world. 

Social media also contributes to the development of online literacy skills in children, including online safety awareness and media literacy. Rather than ban kids from social media, the government should put more effort into helping them interact with social media responsibly and safely. That aside, the government has no business policing how people raise their kids. Parents should have every right to raise their kids in any way they deem fit, provided it's not harmful to the kid. This includes introducing them to social media whenever they deem appropriate and safe for the child. Therefore, this ban undermines parental autonomy and the role of parental guidance in their children's lives.

Lastly, the ban doesn't address the unprecedented implications that could follow, including the illegal use of social media through false identification. If there's one thing predators would certainly like, it's manipulating kids by threatening to report them for using illegal accounts. This ban could also drive kids to less regulated alternatives, which often lack proper oversight, parental controls, and safety protocols provided by mainstream social media platforms. 

Elisa (Yes)

Social media is one of the most dangerous aspects of the lives of children today, and it's a good thing Florida's governing body has finally stepped in to restrict and, therefore, protect minors and the overall well-being of children. There is no denying that social media is harmful to children, yet little has been done to stop its detrimental effects. Senator Brian Schultz explains that these 'simple, straightforward guidelines' will allow the next generation of kids 'a chance to grow up happy and healthy.' The truth is that our kids are suffering, and there is growing evidence that social media harms children's mental health.

While some see this as a violation of parental rights, parents have unfortunately stopped parenting their children, especially when it comes to phone usage. Many children are literally left to their own devices, alone, for hours on end, without monitoring or guidance. When parents stop parenting, the government has the right to make laws, especially when it comes to neglect. In regards to social media, parents have failed to monitor their children's usage, as they are addicted themselves, leading to apathy towards this issue. 

Besides, the government's limitations on what children can do is nothing new. Children cannot attend R-rated movies by themselves, get tattoos, drink, or be sold cigarettes. Government intervenes all the time to protect children from many different problems, and parents do not have a blanket right to do anything they like with their children. Truly, social media impacts children arguably worse than cigarettes do, and just as cigarettes can harm the developing brain, so can social media. It is time to advocate for our children the way we have against drugs by acknowledging the harms and urgency of getting minors off social media.

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