Blocked? Gov. DeSantis voices legal concerns with bill banning social media for minors.

While calling the apps a ‘net negative’ for youth, he wants to dodge legal problems facing other states.

Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’s understands the motivations behind a social media ban for minors championed by Speaker Paul Renner. But he holds legal concerns about the reach of the bill (HB 1) right now.

“I’m sympathetic to, as a parent, what’s going on with our youth. But I also understand that to just say that someone that’s 15 just cannot have it no matter what, even if the parent consents, that may create some legal issues,” he said.

Other states have seen social media restrictions for minors challenged in court. Utah lawmakers this year intend to revise a law passed last year requiring permission from a parent before minors can access social media apps, after critics sued Utah Gov. Spencer Cox over the constitutionality of age verification requirements.

Platforms similarly sued Ohio over a pending law that also requires children to obtain parental consent before using the networks.

Of note, legislation just passed by the Florida House would go quite a bit further and bar anyone under the age of 16 from having a social media account, regardless of whether parents approved.

“There is not a parental consent to take your child into a casino,” said Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican sponsoring the bill, at a committee stop.

After hearing about the Governor’s comments, Sirois stressed the importance of passing restrictions and that the House will work with DeSantis on his concerns.

“These social media platforms are using addictive features to hook and manipulate our kids,” Sirois said. “These companies are exploiting Florida’s children to advance their own interests. We’ve learned that even the children of highly involved parents can see tragic results.

“I am in lockstep with Speaker Renner: we must not allow this to continue. I look forward to working with Sen. (Erin) Grall and Gov. DeSantis over the weeks ahead.”

Notably, a Senate version of the bill (SB 1788) sponsored by Grall has yet to be heard in committee.

DeSantis said he does feel there needs to be regulation on social media and its impact on children. A father of three children under the age of 8, he said none of his kids have their own accounts.

“My wife would go to great lengths to ensure they’re not on social media,” he said, but he acknowledged his kids might grab a cell phone on the counter and play with it.

He believes most parents have seen the harm of devices with children but also want online tools that are positive to remain available.

“I do think it’s a problem. I think social media has been a net negative for our youth, without question,” DeSantis said.

“Now, having said that, there have been other states that have tried to do similar things that have met resistance in the courts. Not to say courts are always right about this, but anything I do, I want a pathway for this to actually stick.”


Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.