Protecting Our Children: How the Latest State Law Changes Social Media Access for Kids

Georgia Republicans are looking to enhance the authority of parents to decide whether their children should have access to social media through a new bill that's gathering support.

In a news conference on Monday, Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Sen. Jason Anavitarte expressed their intentions to pass legislation that would require children to obtain their parents' explicit permission before creating social media accounts. Additionally, the proposal might extend to limitations on accounts for other online services.

"It’s important that we empower parents," stated Anavitarte, a prominent Republican in the Georgia state Senate. "A lot of parents don’t know how to restrict content."

Georgia aims to follow the path of Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Utah, all of which have enacted laws mandating parental consent for children's social media usage. California has also put a law into effect that demands further measures to protect the privacy and safety of children.

Anavitarte mentioned that the upcoming regulations would be fashioned after a law passed in Louisiana this year.

Set to be implemented in 2024, the legislation mandates that social media services confirm the age of an account holder, and prohibits individuals under the age of 18 from joining without obtaining parental consent.

In a related development, some members of Congress are exploring the possibility of national legislation that would require parental consent for minors to access social media.

Anavitarte revealed that he has been communicating with Meta Platforms, the corporate parent of Facebook and Instagram, and stated that both he and Jones plan to engage in discussions with the social media giant about their intentions.

Last year, Meta took initiatives to confirm an individual's age, such as requesting ID uploads. The company asserts that it offers "age-appropriate experiences" for teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17.

This movement towards increased parental supervision in children's social media utilization emerged following a warning by U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in May, declaring that social media platforms are not safe for young individuals.

Murthy urged tech corporations, parents, and caregivers to undertake "immediate action to protect kids now," and called for technology companies to heighten transparency with lawmakers in order to enhance social media safety regulations.

Currently, social media companies adhere to federal rules that prohibit children under the age of 13 from registering for their services. However, a study by the Pew Research Center disclosed that these restrictions are frequently bypassed, with as many as 95% of teenagers aged 13 to 17 admitting to using a social media platform.

Additionally, Anavitarte expressed his desire to reinforce Georgia's laws concerning cyberbullying by resurrecting his 2022 proposal. This would require schools to alert both students and parents that certain bullying behaviors could result in criminal stalking charges.

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