Georgia considers law requiring parental consent for children’s social media accounts

Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Sen. Jason Anavitare are leading this initiative, aiming to empower parents who may be unfamiliar with controlling their children’s online content.

The state of Georgia lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Burt Jones and Sen. Jason Anavitarte, are considering a law that would make it necessary for children to have explicit consent from their parents before creating social media accounts. This proposal, planned for 2024, could also apply to other online services.

Anavitarte emphasized the importance of empowering parents who might not know how to manage content access for their children. This initiative takes inspiration from Louisiana’s recently passed law, which mandates age verification and parental consent for minors joining social media platforms. Similar laws have been enacted in Arkansas, Texas, and Utah.

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has expressed concerns about social media safety for young individuals. Meta Platforms, owner of Facebook and Instagram, has been contacted regarding these plans. This move comes in response to the popularity of social media among teenagers, with the Pew Research Center reporting up to 95% of teens aged 13 to 17 use such platforms. Anavitarte also aims to strengthen Georgia’s cyberbullying law.

Why does it matter?

With the surge in underage social media use and potential associated risks, such legislative efforts seem well-intentioned in safeguarding minors from online threats, including cyberbullying, inappropriate content, and privacy breaches. However, advocates for free speech caution that these actions might result in websites restricting access to information and creating obstacles for adults’ access. Additionally, the introduced laws might prompt online platforms to implement government identification for age verification purposes, which is already happening on some pornography sites, raising concerns about privacy and potential data breaches.