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Published on April 08, 2024
Tennessee Lawmakers Push for Parental Consent on Children's Social Media Use with New BillSource: Unsplash/ Rami Al-zayat

The debate over children's safety online has taken center stage in Tennessee as lawmakers push forward a bill aimed squarely at putting parents back in control. The proposed legislation, SB2097/HB1891, will require all minors under the age of 18 to secure parental consent before they can create or maintain a social media profile. According to FOX 17, the bill is scheduled to go before the state Senate on Monday, aiming to amend what is becoming an increasingly troublesome aspect of modern parenting.

The overwhelming support for such measures is evident – a staggering 86% of parents believe it's far too easy for youngsters to stumble upon explicit content on the web, per a national poll cited by The Tennessean. This legislation intends to empower families, enabling them to actively choose to monitor and restrict their children's online havens, ostensibly preventing potential psychological harm that comes from unsupervised internet usage.

Advocates argue that the Protecting Children from Social Media Act, sponsored by Rep. William Lamberth and Senator Jack Johnson, both Republicans, is a necessary step to safeguard vulnerable minds in the digital age. Critics, however, have yet to weigh in significantly on the potential free speech ramifications or the practicalities of enforcing such a mandate.

Backing the bill, State Rep. Jake McCalmon underscored the parent's role in this digital dynamic, stating, "At the end of the day, it comes down to the parent to make the decision on whether or not they want their children to have access to it, so there’s no restriction on their freedoms of speech." McCalmon elaborated in an interview obtained by WKRN, emphasizing that the bill isn't seen as a curb on the freedom of expression but rather as a means to empower parents over their children's online activities.

Under the proposed regulations, social media networks would be responsible for verifying both the age of account holders and the parental consent provided. The practicalities around this verification process remain a topic for debate, as is the question of how companies will adapt to these state-specific requirements. Should the bill become law, Tennessee would be one of the first states to enact such stringent controls over minors' access to social media platforms.