FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Arkansas’ new social media law aims to clamp down on kids’ access to online sites.
The law requires Arkansans under 18 years old to get parental permission before creating a new social media account. State Sen. Tyler Dees is one of the sponsors of the legislation.
“It sends a clear message that we want to partner with parents and power them to protect our children,” Dees said.
Dees said the law will ensure kids’ social media usage does not go unchecked.
“We can’t continue to turn a blind eye and protect the profits of large social media companies over the protection of our children,” Dees said.
Starting in September, if you create a new social media account in Arkansas, you will have to verify your age through a third party. To prove their age, people will have to upload a digital copy of an ID and kids will have to get a parent’s consent.
Psychologist Dr. Margaret Rutherford said the legislation could be both positive and negative.
“Good parents are going to use this effectively, not so good parents are not going to use it effectively,” Dr. Rutherford said.
Rutherford said social media could provide useful information for young people on important topics like mental health, so denying access can be tricky. She says you can’t legislate morality, and it really comes down to parent and child relationships.
“The more vulnerable you are as a parent about your own struggles, then the more you’re likely to be able to lead and guide your child to talk about theirs,” Rutherford said.
TikTok said it won’t comment on the law, but sent the following statement:
“We’re committed to providing a safe and secure platform that supports the well-being of teens, and empowers parents with the tools and controls to safely navigate the digital experience. We strive to accomplish this through robust safety policies, parental controls, and age-appropriate account settings, which include, automatically setting a 60-minute daily screen time limit for users under 18 years old, and disabling direct messaging for those under 16. Our team of more than 40,000 safety professionals are dedicated to keeping our community safe and welcoming, and we will continue to play our part in tackling industry-wide challenges related to youth safety and well-being.”TikTok Spokesperson
Meta sent the following statement in regard to the law:
“We want teens to be safe online. We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including tools that let parents and teens work together to limit the amount of time teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences. We automatically set teens’ accounts to private when they join Instagram, and we send notifications encouraging them to take regular breaks. We don’t allow content that promotes suicide, self-harm or eating disorders, and of the content we remove or take action on, we identify over 99% of it before it’s reported to us. We’ll continue to work closely with experts, policymakers and parents on these important issues.”Meta Spokesperson