'Dangerous' Social Media: NY State Senator Seeks To Require Parents' Permission For Minors

As federal officials highlight the possible harm that social media can cause to children, a New York State Senator is seeking to make it unlawful for minors to use online platforms without permission from their parents. 

A New York state senator is proposing legislation that would require minors to be granted permission by their parents before using social media.
A New York state senator is proposing legislation that would require minors to be granted permission by their parents before using social media. Photo Credit: Pixabay/Gerd Altmann

New York State Senator Jack Martins, a Republican who represents the state's 7th State Senate district which includes part of Nassau County, has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for social media companies to allow minors to create or maintain accounts without obtaining consent from their parents or guardians, Martin's office announced on Friday, May 26. 

The proposal is meant to allow parents to be able to more effectively monitor their children's online activities and also protect them from the "dark side of social media," Martin's office said in their announcement, which called social media "dangerous." 

"As a father of four daughters, I’m very concerned about the growing trend of social media and the detrimental impact it has on children and minors under the age of eighteen," Martin said. 

"Our children and young adults need to be separated from constant and lengthy visits to social media sites in order to prevent depression and such," he added. 

The bill would have a two-prong approach:

  • It would require social media companies to get parental consent before allowing minors to use social media platforms between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.;
  • It would target social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, and Instagram, and require them to provide parental access to children's posts and messages.

The bill would also empower the New York Attorney General's Office to persecute any violations by social media companies that fail to obtain parental consent with a fine of up to $25,000 per instance.

"The main concept of the proposal is to put 'children’s safety' first by limiting bullying, hate speech, and the spread of online misinformation, which can potentially cause harmful effects on minors,” Martins said.

The proposed legislation comes soon after a report from US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released on Tuesday, May 23 that indicated the mental health risks that social media platforms can pose to children and adolescents. 

According to Murthy, social media can expose children to inappropriate content, increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety, perpetuate low self-esteem, and interrupt sleep. 

Murthy's report also revealed that up to 95 percent of young people between the ages of 13 and 17 report using a social media platform, and up to a third say they use it almost constantly. 

"Children are exposed to harmful content on social media, ranging from violent and sexual content, to bullying and harassment," Murthy said, adding, "And for too many children, social media use is compromising their sleep and valuable in-person time with family and friends."

"We are in the middle of a national youth mental health crisis, and I am concerned that social media is an important driver of that crisis – one that we must urgently address," Murthy continued.

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