Ohio Proposal Aims to Require Verified Parental Consent Before Kids Can Use Social Media

A new proposal spearheaded by Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted would require certain online companies to obtain verified parental consent before permitting kids ages 16 and under to use their platforms.

The executive budget for 2023–24 that Governor Mike DeWine submitted last week to the Ohio General Assembly includes the Social Media Parental Notification Act.

The plan mentions companies like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat along with other social media and online gaming platforms.

The act requires social media and online companies to create a parental consent splash page when users under 16 years old register for an account, obtain verifiable parental or legal guardian consent, and send written confirmation of the consent to the parent or legal guardian.

For example, if the user indicates that he or she is under 16 via the splash page, the following methods can be used for verification: Signing a digital form consenting to the terms of service, using a credit card, debit card or other online payment systems, calling a toll-free telephone number, connecting to trained personnel via video-conference, or checking 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, online product, or online feature by the child.

Husted said that he hopes this is just the beginning of giving parents tools to protect their children from the harmful effects of social media.

“Social media platforms like TikTok are bombarding our kids with information we, as parents, wouldn’t necessarily want them to see with things like eating disorders, gender reassignment, suicide and more. You wouldn’t let a stranger come into your child’s bedroom and start talking to them, but that’s exactly what’s happening online. Strangers are contacting our children and they don’t always have the best intentions,” Husted said.

According to Husted, many of the mental health issues children are facing are directly tied to these social media companies that are profiting off of Ohio children. They are compiling information on them, promoting harmful content, and they are adding dangerous, addicting algorithms to the platforms without taking any action to safeguard the users.

“Social media companies are making billions from products that can be very harmful to our kids, and we need to give parents more tools to protect their children,” Husted said.

Husted said he anticipates opposition to the act, but he hopes that social media firms will recognize their obligation.

“We look forward to working with the General Assembly and these companies to open the conversation and find the best solution to protect our kids,” Husted told The Ohio Star.

Companies would have 90 days to comply if passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by DeWine.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Jon Husted” by Jon Husted. 




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