Ohio proposal would require verified parental consent before kids can use social media

A new proposal led by Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted would require certain online companies to obtain verified parental consent before allowing kids under the age of 16 to use their platforms.

The Social Media Parental Notification Act was submitted as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s 2023-24 executive budget presented to the Ohio General Assembly last week.

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The proposal includes social media and online gaming companies including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Social media and online companies would be required to do the following:

  • Create a method to determine whether the user is a child under the age of 16
  • Obtain verifiable parental or legal guardian consent
  • 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 systems
  • Call a toll-free telephone number
  • Connect to trained personnel via video-conference
  • 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, or online product.

According to a recent university of Michigan Health Poll, parents shared 50 percent of children 10 to 12 years old and 33 percent of children 7 to 9 years old use social media apps.

Local mother Britni McKinniss told us they “started from a very young age limiting screen time.” But McKinniss admitted as her kids get older, it’s harder.

During a conference, Lt. Gov. Jon Hustead tells us, “we need to give parents more tools, and Ohio wants to lead the way.”

Hustead worries that kids may get addicted to social media, he explained, “to give more control over what their children see. What data is being collected on their children and to help parents fight back against some of the addictive and incredulous things that are happening with social media.”

Janea Shaffer, another local mother, tells us she’s not too worried about it. She tells us her six-year-old daughter only uses a tablet for learning, explaining, “She doesn’t have a big obsession with hers.”

McKinniss said her kids are not obsessed with online activities either. She’s also not sure if the lieutenant governor’s proposal would do any good saying, “I think parents are the ones who should decide if their children are mature enough to understand the repercussions and challenges that social media can bring.”

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