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The state of Arkansas, led by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is now attempting to pass a Social Media Safety Act for children. The idea here is simple but profound: as a society, we need to put new guardrails in place to protect our kids on social media. After all, we live at a time when kids still in elementary school are signing up for social media platforms and when predators and drug dealers are using social media as a way of finding new victims.
What is the Social Media Safety Act?
A key requirement of the proposed Social Media Safety Act is to ask kids to show a photo ID before setting up a social media account. That’s the easiest solution to keep kids under the age of 13 from signing up for Facebook or Instagram. Moreover, the act will require the consent of parents before kids can set up those accounts. Thus, even if your 12-year-old finds some way to get a fake ID, he or she still won’t be able to set up a social media account without the consent of a parent.
Best of all, there will be a strong incentive for social media companies to comply with this act. According to the Social Media Safety Act, parents will have the right to sue a social media company if it does not comply. That means a company like Facebook or Twitter can’t hide behind a lot of promises and good intentions – if they let a young child onto their platform, they can be held legally liable.
Possible concerns debunked
Of course, any piece of new legislation comes with some concerns. Those in opposition to the proposed bill say it flies in the face of established Supreme Court precedent. In short, they say that Constitutional free speech cannot be conditioned on prior parental consent. Put another way, those opposed to the new bill are saying that it impinges on the free speech rights of children everywhere. Kids should be able to say whatever they want to say, and they shouldn’t have to get the approval of their parents.
What? And this legal logic gets even more twisted. The tech lobbyists opposed to the bill say that it “interferes with family decision-making.” As they see it, the risks to “family decision-making” are much higher than the risks of young teens committing suicide, having deep bouts of depression, or being abused by child sex predators.
Requiring a photo ID is not a big deal. If you want to set up an account at a financial institution, for example, you need to provide a photo ID. It’s all part of the “know your customer” policies mandated for them. If banks and brokerages need to know who their customers are, shouldn’t social media companies?
A great idea to save the children
At the end of the day, this new bill in Arkansas sounds like a fantastic policy for both parents and kids. Yes, it will require parents to become more active in the lives of their children, but isn’t that a good thing? Now that we know about the potential drawbacks of social media for young teens, parents should be willing to get involved. Children should not be able to sign up for social media until they’re physically, emotionally, and mentally ready.