Tennessee lawmakers seek to require parental permission before children join social media

FILE - The TikTok logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays the TikTok home screen, Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

Tennessee’s GOP-dominant Senate unanimously signed off on legislation requiring minors to have parental consent to create social media accounts on Monday.

The bill is similar to pushes currently being made across the United States as concern grows over young people’s internet usage. Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas and Utah have all passed measures requiring parental consent for children to use social media — though Arkansas’ version is currently blocked as a federal lawsuit makes its way through court. Georgia sent a proposal to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature or veto last month.

The Tennessee Senate approved its version without debate, though lawmakers tacked on a last-minute addition to clarify the bill only applied to social media websites. That means the House chamber must approve those changes before it can go to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk for his approval.

To comply with federal regulations, social media companies have already banned kids under 13 from signing up for their platforms, but children have been shown to easily evade the restrictions.

However, Tennessee lawmakers are hoping to require social media companies to provide parents with options to view privacy settings, set daily time restrictions and implement mandatory breaks.

If enacted, the attorney general would be permitted to investigate and sue a social media platform for possible violations.

Up to 95% of teens aged 13 to 17 report using a social media platform, with more than a third saying they use them “almost constantly,” the Pew Research Center found.