Kids and teens under 18 in Louisiana may soon need their parents’ permission to sign up for online accounts, including for social media, gaming and more, under a newly-passed bill in the state.
The measure, which still needs to be signed by the state’s governor to take effect, follows a trend of laws in conservative states like Utah and Arkansas that seek to limit adolescents’ unrestricted access to social media. Liberal states like California as well as some Democratic lawmakers in Congress have also been working on new regulations to protect kids from some of the harmful impacts of social media.
While protecting kids on the internet is a value shared across the board, tech companies and many civil society groups that oppose the industry in other matters have warned that such legislation ignores the positive impacts social media can have, particularly for marginalized youth. They also warn that new restrictions could have unintended harmful effects on kids, like by limiting the resources they have to turn to for help out of a negative home life and forcing tech platforms to collect more information on both kids and adults to ensure compliance based on age.
Still, the unanimous vote in both chambers of the Louisiana state legislature underscores the popularity of legislation aimed at protecting kids from online harms.
The bill would also clarify that agreements minors made when they signed up for existing accounts can be rendered null. The state code already says that parents or legal guardians can rescind contracts their kids sign up for.
The office of Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the bill. If he chooses to sign it, it will take effect in August 2024.