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Ban on kids under 16 using social media is back in Ohio Senate's version of state budget

 A group of young people on smartphones
A group of young people on smartphones

Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R) ban on social media use by minors under 16 without parental permission is back in the Ohio Senate’s version of the state budget, after it was removed by the House.

Some other states are considering such bans, though the mechanisms to prove parental consent are still being discussed.

State officials backing the ban say it’s about protecting kids’ mental health and shielding them from social media addiction and cyber bullying. Lt. Gov. Jon Husted (R) said social media companies have to come up with a way to obtain verifiable parental consent.

"We've given all of the companies a chance to weigh in," Husted said. "My belief is that they finally get that this is happening, that other states are doing it, that we're doing it, and now they're starting to engage to make sure that we're doing it in a way that they can live with each other."

The U.S. Surgeon General has said that kids under 13 shouldn't be permitted on TikTok and Instagram, because of the “distorted environment" those platforms can present.

A ban on kids under 16 from using social media has been proposed in the U.S. House, and a Senate bill would prohibit kids under 13 from accessing those platforms. Husted said he'd like to see a national ban go forward, but Congress hasn’t moved on that.

“If you're not going to get it done, then we're going to lead and we're going to get it done state by state until we force the issue to occur," Husted said. "Or hopefully the companies are going to go begging the federal government to fix this and give them one uniform standard.”

The ban allows the attorney general to bring civil lawsuits against social media and gaming platforms that don’t comply. House Finance Committee chair Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said in April that it was removed because there was concern that the AG could act, but not parents themselves.

Social media companies have said they have safeguards already in place, and suggest bans would require parents and kids to share drivers' licenses, birthdates and other personal information for verification with those companies, which could be a problem for some people.

Utah and Arkansas have passed similar social media bans for minors. Last year, California passed a law on social media privacy settings for kids under 18 and prohibiting them from profiling kids or using their data in ways that could be harmful to their mental health.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
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