By: Jacob Kessler
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted has championed a new proposal that will give parents more control over their children’s safety and wellbeing.
The Social Media Parental Notification Act was submitted with the Governor’s 2023-2024 executive budget which was presented to the Ohio General Assembly in the first week of February.
According to a release, the act puts forth the following rules. Companies must create a method to determine whether the user is a child under the age of 16, obtain verifiable parental or legal guardian consent, and send written confirmation of the consent to the parent or legal guardian.
If the user indicates that they are under the age of 16 via the splash page, the following methods can be used for verification.
Sign a digital form consenting to the terms of service, use a credit card, debit card, or other online payment system, call a toll-free telephone number, connect to trained personnel via videoconference, and or check a form of government-issued identification.
“If a parent or legal guardian fails or refuses to consent to the terms of service, the company must deny access or use of the online website, online service, online product, or online feature by the child.”
These requirements will be placed onto social media and online gaming/activity companies such as Facebook (Meta), Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat and more. This will not apply to e-commerce sites such as those used for online shopping.
According to Lt. Governor Husted, this was all put forth to ensure social media companies cannot go around parents to get to the kids.
The Lt. Governor also spoke about harmful effects the social media applications are having on children.
These, according to the Lt. Governor, included effects to their ability to learn, mental and physical challenges, not enough exercise, bullying, content that is inappropriate, gender transition propaganda and eating disorder information.
“All of those things are on social media platforms that go around parents to their kids directly. You wouldn’t let an adult into your kids room all alone to talk to them and collect their information, but if they have a phone, that could be going on without you knowing.”
Lt. Governor Husted also explained that he had just recently held a press conference with parents Tim and Tamia Woods.
Their son, who was 17 years old, committed suicide in November after being sextorted. The 17-year-old thought he was talking to another teenage girl, but it turned out the person was an adult from another country.
This person got the teenager to take a compromising photo of himself, which the adult then used as blackmail and ultimately led to the teenagers suicide.
This the Lt. Governor said, is happening far too often. “This is happening all over the country to kids. It is time for it to stop and we need to hold these social media companies accountable for what’s happening on these platforms.”
The Lt. Governor is hopeful the General Assembly will approve the State Budget, which had the Act inserted into it, so that it can become law by June 30th of this year. If passed, companies will have 90 days to comply.
Jacob can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org