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Florida House Approves Bill Banning Social Media For Kids Under 16

Florida’s Republican-controlled House of Representatives approved a bill Wednesday that would ban the use of all social media for kids under the age of 16.

The bill, which would ban kids from having social media accounts regardless of parental approval, passed 106 to 13.

“This is about protecting children from addictive technology and what we know harms them,” Republican House Speaker Paul Renner said after the vote, NBC Miami reported. “And what the social media platforms know. For years, they have known this and they have failed to act. By your vote today, we have done so.”

Republican State Rep. Fiona McFarland defended the bill by saying social media is “digital fentanyl” for kids, ABC News reported.

“Even the most plugged-in parent or attuned teen has a hard time shutting the door against these addictive features,” McFarland said.

Along with preventing minors under 16 from making social media accounts, the bill would require social media platforms to delete existing accounts known to be held by children younger than 16 in the state. It would also require social media platforms to use independent organizations to verify a user’s age when they make an account.

The bill will now go to Florida’s GOP-controlled Senate for final arguments and a vote.

Critics of the bill have argued that it infringes on users’ constitutional and data privacy rights.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, argued the bill could strip Florida’s youth of the opportunities that other teens in the U.S. have.

“Many teens today leverage the internet and apps to responsibly gather information and learn about new opportunities, including part-time jobs, higher education, civic or church gatherings, and military service,” Meta representative Caulder Harvill-Childs wrote to the state’s House Judiciary Committee.

Although Democratic State Rep. Ashley Gantt said she agrees with the bill’s goal of protecting kids, what kids can do online should be up to their parents.

“I 100% agree with the bill sponsors’ position of making sure that we protect children. I 100% agree,” she said before the vote. But it should not come at the cost of parents being able to make the ultimate decision in how they raise their child.”

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