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New bill: Georgians under 16 could soon need to get permission from parents before they use social media

Georgia – If a new proposal supported by Lt. Gov. Burt Jones is passed in Georgia, kids under 16 will have to ask their parents before they use social media.

Georgia Senate Bill 351

This proposal, known as Senate Bill 351 and put forward by Sen. Jason Anavitarte, aims to make sure social media platforms check how old their users are. Kids under 16 would be considered “minor users.” Under this bill, social media sites would have to get a parent’s okay before letting a kid under 16 create an account. These sites would also be limited in how they gather data from young users and show them ads.

Additionally, the bill wants to update existing rules about bullying to cover cyberbullying. It also sets new guidelines for school districts. If this bill turns into law, districts would need to stop students from using social media on school devices. Plus, the state’s Department of Education would have to create and keep updating a program that teaches about using the internet safely and responsibly, adapting to new technology changes.

Georgia lawmaker proposes bill that would require parents of children under 16 to approve social media use

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“Since we announced this initiative in August, Senator Anavitarte and I have worked with industry and education leaders, online safety advocates, and legal experts to craft this legislation, and we will continue working with them as this process moves forward,” Jones said. “We believe SB 351 is an important step forward in protecting Georgia’s children and giving them the tools they need to be safe in their use of social media and other technologies.”

Studies on how social media impact young teenagers

The Mayo Clinic points out that social media can be good for teenagers, helping them stay connected with friends far away, learn about different places and topics, and find new ways to share their thoughts. However, research also shows it can have downsides.

Heavy social media use has been linked to mental health issues. The negative impacts can include not getting enough sleep, facing bullying and peer pressure online, and feeling bad due to unrealistic portrayals of other people’s lives.

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“As two dads, we believe we must keep our kids safe through the ever-growing threat of social media on minors,” said Anavitarte. “The threats are not just locally in our communities, but in the global stage as we have seen more recently.  No kid should have to worry and stress about bullying and online threats. We will continue to promote efforts to have strong families against the poison eroding America.”

Other states already having similar laws in place

States such as Arkansas and Utah have already approved similar laws. While social media companies claim they try hard to keep their apps safe for young users, they prefer to follow one uniform set of national rules rather than different ones in each state.

“Parents want to be involved in their teen’s online lives, and they need simple ways to oversee the many apps their teens use,” said Rachel Holland, a spokesperson for Meta, which operates platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. “However, U.S. states are passing a patchwork of laws with different requirements to use certain apps. That’s why we support federal legislation that requires app stores to get parents’ approval whenever their teens under 16 download apps.”

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“We’re grateful for our partnership with Georgia policymakers and look forward to continuing to work closely with them to safeguard teens and empower parents,” she added.

Senate Bill 351 is currently being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Education and Youth.

Leander Thorne



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