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DeSantis Restrict Instagram Usage Among Adolescents_ Policymaking in the Digital Age.pdf (70.53 kB)

DeSantis Restrict Instagram Usage Among Adolescents: Policymaking in the Digital Age

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posted on 2024-05-17, 14:48 authored by Gavin Mitchell

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a bill aimed at safeguarding children’s mental health by imposing restrictions on their access to social media. [1] Effective January 1, 2025, the legislation prohibits children under the age of 14 from using social media platforms and mandated parental consent from 14- and 15-year-olds. [2]

The bill necessitates social media platforms to terminate accounts of users under 14 and those aged under 16 without parental authorization; platforms must employ third-party verification systems to enforce the new age requirements. [3] Originally Florida’s Republican-led legislature proposed a complete ban on social media for those under 16, which Governor DeSantis vetoed, citing parental rights concerns, yet has shifted his position, emphasizing social media poses risks to children, rationale supporting the legislation as a means for parents to shield their children from these dangers. [4]

Advocates argue excessive social media usage contributes to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, adolescents being particularly vulnerable, however critics argue the bill encroaches upon First Amendment rights and asserts parental discretion, not government intervention, should dictate children’s online activity. [5] In tandem with Florida’s efforts to regulate children’s social media usage, there’s a broader push at the federal level concerning the regulation of prominent social media platforms, with Congress currently deliberating on a bill that would compel TikTok to relinquish its operations to the United States or face outright prohibition. [6]

This move comes amidst growing concerns about data privacy practices and its potential implications for national security, reflecting a broader trend of heightened scrutiny and regulatory measures aimed at major social media platforms. With social media playing an increasingly significant role in shaping public discourse and influencing societal dynamics, policymakers are grappling with the complexities of balancing user freedoms with the imperative to protect privacy and national security interests.

The proliferation of technology and its pervasive influence over modern society has prompted a significant shift in the role and function of the government. As digital platforms increasingly shape public discourse, economic transactions, and even political outcomes, governments worldwide are grappling with the challenges posed by this technological revolution. [7] This transformation necessitates a reevaluation of traditional governing paradigms and the development of new regulatory frameworks to effectively address emerging issues in the digital age.

Furthermore, the democratization of information enabled by the internet has empowered individuals and grassroots movements to challenge established power structures and hold governments accountable to a greater extent than ever before. [8] Social media platforms serve as virtual town squares where citizens can mobilize, organize, and voice dissent against perceived injustices in real-time, bypassing traditional gatekeepers of information.

In response to challenges such as these, governments must adopt a multifaceted approach that encompasses legislative reforms, international cooperation, and public-private partnerships. Regulatory bodies must be empowered with the resources and expertise necessary to effectively oversee the rapidly evolving tech landscape and mitigate potential harms. In addition, policymakers must engage in meaningful dialogue with industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and technologists to develop evidence-based politics that strike a balance between innovation and regulation.

While regulatory intervention may be necessary to address pressing issues caused by the evolution of technology and social media, governments must exercise caution to avoid overreach that stifles innovation and infringes upon fundamental freedoms. Excessive government regulation of social media platforms risks undermining the principles of free speech, expression, and innovation that underpin democratic societies.

As policymakers navigate the complexities of governing the digital realm, they must strike a delicate balance between safeguarding public interests and preserving the open and inclusive nature of the internet. Failure to do so may result in unintended consequences that undermine the very values the government seeks to protect, highlighting the importance of thoughtful and evidence-based policymaking in the digital age.

[1] Borter, Gabriella, Florida’s DeSantis Signs Law Restricting Social Media for People Under 16, Reuters (Mar. 25, 2024, 10:07 PM), 

[2] H.B. 3, Chapter 2024-42 Judiciary Committee, Reg. Sess. (Fl. 2025).

[3] Id.

[4] Borter, Florida’s DeSantis. (2024).

[5] Id. 

[6] Id.

[7] Apps, Peter, Social Media - A Political Tool for Good or Evil?, Reuters (Sep. 29, 2011 9:35 AM), 

[8] Id.



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