Social media safety should be taught in Florida schools: Lawmakers

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Social media safety should be taught in Florida schools: Lawmakers

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — Children are racking up more screen time than ever before on social media, and Florida state Sen. Danny Burgess, R, thinks they need “social media safety” taught in the classroom.

Burgess proposed the bill for the second time this year, with hopes of making it law.

If approved, Florida might require public schools to teach social media safety for the first time in the state’s history.

“It’s about protecting kids,” Burgess said. “It’s about helping them realize things they do today may live long after they posted it.”

The bill aims to inform children of the advantages and disadvantages of social media by teaching them social media literacy.

Both Republicans and Democrats were on board for an almost identical bill last session. But despite bipartisan support, it stalled in committee and died before reaching the chamber floors.

If passed, the newest version of Burgess’ proposed bill requires the state’s Department of Education to come up with a social media safety curriculum. They’d also make instructional materials available online so parents can take a peek themselves.

“It is important and a necessity right now because kids are spending more than seven, eight, nine hours online,” social media safety consultant Ronna Glickman told NewsNation.

Another big part of this bill defines — for the first time in state law — what social media is. 

The proposed definition? “A form of interactive electronic communication through an Internet website or application by which a user creates a service-specific identifying user profile to connect with other users of the Internet website or application for the purpose of communicating and sharing information, ideas, news, stories, opinions, images, videos, and 31 other content.”

While this law would be a first for Florida, several other states like Utah, Washington and Maine already have something similar in place.

“All social media safety education is not created equal,” Organization for Social Media Safety CEO Marc Berkman said. “Students really need to be educated on the full spectrum of those risks so that they know how to keep themselves safe on social media.”

The proposed legislation is set to be heard during March’s legislative session.

NewsNation’s Devan Markham contributed to this report.

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