Florida Enacts Law Restricting Social Media Access for Minors

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Bill Prohibiting Under-14s from Independent Social Media Use, Tightening Controls on Explicit Content.

In a move aimed at curbing underage exposure to social media and explicit online content, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a bill into law on Monday that prohibits children under the age of 14 from having their own social media accounts without parental consent. The announcement was made through a news release from the governor’s office.

Under the newly enacted legislation, titled HB 3, children aged 14 and 15 will be permitted to have social media accounts, but only with the explicit consent of their parents or legal guardians. The law also imposes stringent regulations on access to pornographic websites, mandating age verification procedures for individuals visiting such sites.

Florida Enacts Law Restricting Social Media Access for Minors
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

Scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2025, HB 3 places Florida among the ranks of states that have implemented measures to regulate young Americans’ access to social media platforms and explicit online content. Similar laws have been enacted or proposed in various states across the country, including Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Ohio, and Utah.

However, the legislation is expected to face legal challenges akin to those encountered by similar laws in other jurisdictions. Earlier this year, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against Ohio’s law, expressing concerns about its scope and potential infringement on teenagers’ First Amendment rights to access information online. Similarly, a federal judge halted the implementation of Arkansas’ law last year.

Governor DeSantis had previously vetoed an earlier version of the Florida legislation, expressing a desire to ensure that any measures enacted adequately involve parents in decisions regarding their children’s social media usage.

The move by Florida underscores the growing concerns among lawmakers and parents alike regarding the impact of social media and unrestricted online access on children and teenagers. As debates surrounding online safety and regulation continue to unfold, the implementation of HB 3 marks a significant step in Florida’s efforts to address these pressing issues.

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