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Social media curfew for children sought in Wisconsin

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(The Center Square) – One of Wisconsin’s Republican lawmakers is not giving up on his idea for a time limit for kids when it comes to social media.

Rep. David DSteffen, R-Green Bay, this week announced his Wisconsin Kids Online Safety Act.

In a statement on Wednesday, he said, “Our surgeon general is again spotlighting the damaging effects of unfettered social media use on our kids – this time calling for a warning label. Users, especially kids and parents, should absolutely be warned about the harms associated with unrestricted social media use.”

His plan would create an optional “safe mode” for social media accounts for kids. That would include a nighttime sleep mode that parents can set.

Steffen said the “safe mode” would also allow parents to “turn off the addictive algorithm and targeted advertising, and restrict direct messaging from strangers.”

Steffen introduced the plan in the spring of 2023, but his legislation didn’t get very far at the Capitol in Madison.

Steffen said he’s been talking about online safety for years, and said that things have not gotten even a little bit better.

“We need to establish some basic guardrails because right now, our kids and parents are no match for the addictive, relentless social media environment that exists today,” Steffen added.

The last version of the Online Safety Act tasked Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Consumer Protection, and Trade with monitoring the rules. Wisconsin’s Department of Justice would then enforce them with fines that could hit $100 per day.

Steffen said the Online Safety Act is not a silver bullet that will solve all of the problems that social media causes for young people. But he said it’s a start.

“This is a complex issue, but when the mental and physical well-being of our kids is at stake, we have a responsibility to take action and develop a solution,” Steffen said.

He will have to wait until after January to officially reintroduce his plan. The Legislature has already wrapped up its business for the year, and won’t return until after the November election.

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