KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Angela Poe Russell: Why Florida’s social media law is step in right direction

Apr 3, 2024, 5:00 AM | Updated: 5:45 am

Photo: A new Florida law prevents a minor, younger than 14 years of age, from having a social media...

A new Florida law prevents a minor, younger than 14 years of age, from having a social media account. (File photo: Jenny Kane, AP)

(File photo: Jenny Kane, AP)

Florida’s governor and the legislature have been on a roll lately with several controversial legislative actions. However, one of them is worth replicating.

I must admit, I could not believe it when it happened. Rarely do I agree with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on anything. But the bill he recently signed into law, on kids and social media, is spot on.

Law prevents social media for minors

In case you missed it, the law prevents a minor, younger than 14 years of age, from having a social media account. Fourteen and 15-year-olds can have an account with parental consent.

The bill also requires pornographic or sexually explicit websites to use age verification.

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However, what’s unfortunate is some people are so stuck in their political corners, they can’t see a good thing when it’s staring them in the face. When it comes to our kids, we can’t afford to make this about politics.

Recent studies have revealed technology and social media use alters the size and physical characteristics of the brain. Then there’s the comparing that goes on, glamorizing harmful behaviors like eating disorders and cutting and the attention and sleep problems that follow.  And we can’t forget the scammers and predators.

Look I get it, social media is not all bad. People feel less alone and can make meaningful connections. But, any good tool needs guard rails.

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We need boundaries! Like yesterday.

I am not so naïve to think that a law will prevent kids from being on social media, but does that mean we do nothing? Does that mean we keep marching deeper into this crisis? Talk about the problem, but do nothing about it?

The reality is technology is moving faster than lawmakers and regulators can act. Now AI is on the scene. And if the experts can’t keep up, how do you think parents are faring? Some think the government should just throw up its hands and leave it to parents.

Um … how is that going? Not everybody has great parents.

Some work two jobs and trying to manage their kid’s social media comes in second to keeping a roof over their head. Even parents with the bandwidth struggle to reign it in as the tech companies, the kids and the scammers always seem a step ahead.

More on the issue: Instagram’s ‘nightly nudge’ may be a step toward healthy social media habits

We need an assist. Desperately. This is a step in the right direction.

But, I don’t know if it will stick. Federal judges have struck down similar laws in the past due to privacy and free speech concerns.

Government intervention isn’t always a bad thing. It facilitates education, healthcare and is a safety net for some.

It takes a village to raise a child. And in this case, if the village is the government in the form of Ron DeSantis, then so be it.

Angela Poe Russell is a longtime Seattle media personality and a fill-in host for KIRO Newsradio.

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Angela Poe Russell: Why Florida’s social media law is step in right direction