Reaction to bill proposing parental permission for kids to join social media

Some Georgia lawmakers want new laws regarding children and social media. They say they're necessary to help protect the mental health of our kids.

"We want to keep our kids safe," said state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas.

Sen. Anavitarte is a dad, and he worries about the negative impact of social media on teens and tweens. He says he knows it can contribute to mental health issues. That's why he's writing legislation that would require parents to sign off on which social media platforms their children can use. 

"It's an opportunity to empower parents to have greater control over the content that a lot of minors are accessing," said Sen. Anavitarte.

He also wants social media companies to remove features they know to be addictive to children. 

"I think the social media companies are realizing that they have a role to play to make sure the content is appropriate, and we're not creating more mental health challenges," said Sen. Anavitarte. 

"From a parental standpoint, this is a no-brainer," said David Schweidel, a professor at Emory University. 

Schweidel has studied the negative impact social media can have on kids, especially when it comes to cyberbullying. 

"Because of social media you're not able to escape that, you're always in contact with these individuals," said Schweidel. 

He also says there's no doubt about it, it's addictive. 

"Their platform by design is addictive, that's how they keep us coming back, that's how they're going to keep serving us advertisements," said Schweidel.

The plan is to partner with school systems and social media companies as the final touches are put on the proposed legislation. 

"Make sure our kids and kids all over the state are protected when it comes to social media," said Sen. Anavitarte. 

Anavitarte plans to introduce the bill during the 2024 legislative session.