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Fla. Protecting Its Most Important Asset — Its Children

governor the sunshine stare families and children safety issues

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., and his wife, Casey DeSantis, talk with Courtney Baumgartner and her daughter, Nova Baumgartner, following a press conference in the aftermath of Hurricane Idalia on Aug. 31, 2023 in Steinhatchee, Florida. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Michael Dorstewitz By Monday, 15 April 2024 11:25 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

In recent months Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., has signed into law an avalanche of bills approved by his GOP legislature, many of hem aimed at protecting children in the Sunshine State.

One of the latest is a juvenile social media ban.

Beginning next year no Floridians below the age of 14 will be permitted to have social media accounts under a bill DeSantis signed into law last month.

Those ages 14 and 15 may do so only with parental consent.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed a bill that bans children aged under 14 from social media platforms and requires 14- and 15-year-olds to get parental consent, a measure supporters say will protect them from online risks to their mental health.

Fla. Rep. Fabian Basabe, R-Dist. 106, told Newsmax TV why the new bill was necessary.

"They’re targeting our children, and look at the numbers — the numbers alone on suicide rate, on depression, on children who are disconnected from their classrooms and their families today,” the Republican lawmaker said on "American Agenda."

"Is it perfect? Who knows. But the thing is we’re sending a clear message — we’re putting it on them: You’re coming for our kids; we’re coming for you, plain and simple."

An earlier version would have banned minors under the age of 16 from popular social media platforms, regardless of parental consent.

Although the new version is less restrictive than the one that DeSantis vetoed, it’s still likely to be challenged, according to Florida-based attorney and Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

"There’s going to be some procedural hurdles, there’s going to be some First Amendment [freedom of speech] challenges," he told Newsmax, adding that "there are going to be some privacy issues. For example, look at how Facebook does their age verification."

Facebook and a few other social media companies may ask a user to upload a government-issued identification card, or take a video selfie as proof of age.

Both methods raise privacy concerns.

O’Connell, who’s also a regular Newsmax TV contributor, acknowledges "that they’re going to run into a lot of brick walls," but added that adolescent social media usage is nonetheless a serious problem that needs addressing.

"Many people would agree that when you’re that young, social media has an even greater impact because your brain is not fully formed. That’s why you’re not allowed to purchase firearms or drink alcohol at a young age."

Christina Pushaw has been a senior DeSantis aide from the start of his administration, and described the issue in similar terms:

"Just a few things that 13-year-olds are not allowed to do in Florida, even with parental consent," she tweeted:

  • Get a sex-change surgery
  • Get married
  • Drink alcohol
  • Play the lottery
  • Buy a car & drive it around
  • Work at a strip club
  • Gamble at a casino
  • Get a tattoo
  • Smoke weed

Pushaw concluded, "Parental rights are important because parents are responsible for raising their children, know their own kids best, and (in general) do a better job bringing up their kids than anyone else would.

"But child protection laws exist for a reason. Both things can be true at the same time."

O’Connell added that although he saw the need for the legislation, he also predicts speed bumps implementing it, "given what’s going on in Europe, and the amount of fines being paid by social media companies, DeSantis & Co. might be on to something."

The European Union’s new Digital Services Act grants them the power to investigate Big Tech firms and fine them up to 6 percent of their global annual revenue if they fail to comply with the DSA’s list of obligations.

The DSA covers not just social media platforms, but also digital shopping sites such as Amazon, and general information services such as Google Maps and Wikipedia.

Despite the restrictions, the governor expressed confidence in the new law as it was redrafted.

"Any time I see a bill, if I don't think it's constitutional, I veto it," said DeSantis, a lawyer, expressing confidence that the social media ban will be upheld.

"We not only satisfied me, but we also satisfied, I think, a fair application of the law and Constitution."

Two years ago the governor signed a bill that protects parental rights in education, and he followed that up last year with a sweeping law restricting gender-affirming treatments for minors, drag shows, bathroom usage, and which pronouns can be used in school.

But he wasn’t nearly finished. Among the bills he signed into law just this year are one targeting child sex abuse and another to release Jeffrey Epstein grand jury documents.

Other bills signed this year include one targeting porch package pirates and a property rights bill to end so-called "squatters rights."

DeSantis signed the social media ban into law on March 25, and it will go into effect Jan. 1, 2025.

And it’s another one in the win column for DeSantis.

Looking ahead, he more-than-likely will be a name to follow in the 2028 presidential race.

Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to Newsmax. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter. Read Michael Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., has signed into law an avalanche of bills approved by his GOP legislature, many of hem aimed at protecting children in the Sunshine State.
digital, social, media
Monday, 15 April 2024 11:25 AM
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