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DeSantis signs ban on social media for children under age 14

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(The Center Square) — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a controversial new bill into law on Monday that will prohibit the use of social media platforms by children.

House Bill 3 requires that social media platforms be regulated to prohibit minors under age 14 from having a social media account if the platform allows users to upload content and view content from other users, uses algorithms and has certain addictive features to keep young children scrolling.

According to the bill, adult websites that have adult content that is sexually explicit or pornographic would also be required to use age verification before someone can access the website.

“One of the things I know a lot of parents have concerns about is the role that the internet and social media play in the upbringing of young kids,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis added that before the rise of the internet, parents only had to worry about their children if they were out of the house and noted that now the danger comes into the home via the internet.

“Now, with things like social media and all this, you can have a kid in the house, safe seemingly, and then you have predators that can get right in there into your own home,” DeSantis said. “You could be doing everything right, but they know how to manipulate these different platforms.”

DeSantis said that social media has created huge problems and mentioned that last session, the Legislature passed a bill to ban the use of cell phones in classrooms and further noted that the legislation has been successful.

“Ultimately, you know, trying to help parents navigate this very difficult terrain that we have now with raising kids,” DeSantis said. “So, I appreciate the work that’s been put in… but we have done an awful lot in the state of Florida over these last many years.”

Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, made it a priority for greater online protections for children in the Sunshine State and said that problems can go deeper than children being at the mercy of predators.

“The internet has become a dark alley for our children where predators target them and dangerous social media leads to higher rates of depression, self-harm, and even suicide,” Renner said. “I am proud of the work of all our bill sponsors Representatives Tyler Sirois, Fiona McFarland, Michele Rayner, Chase Tramont and Toby Overdorf for delivering a legislative framework that prioritizes keeping our children safe.”

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