Wisconsin GOP lawmaker wants wide youth social media limits

May 1, 2023  -MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Social media companies would have to verify the age of Wisconsin users and get parental permission for kids to open accounts under a bill unveiled Monday by Republican Rep. David Steffen.

The measure would also stop children under 18 from using their accounts between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., but parents could opt out of all requirements for their child.

Lawmakers across the country have been pushing to limit children’s access to social media. Nearly half of states nationwide have recently banned the popular video sharing app TikTok from state-owned devices, in many instances with bipartisan support. Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers banned the app in January.

Steffen announced his plans last month to propose more precautions for all social media platforms.

“Today, social media companies, advertisers, and predators have easy, electronic access to our kids. It has become obvious that this has been at the expense of the health and wellbeing of our children,” he said in an April statement. “It’s our job as parents or guardians to keep our kids safe, but the current online environment has made that nearly impossible.”

Under the bill, which Steffen provided to The Associated Press before circulating for cosponsors Monday, social media platforms would have 21 days to verify the age of Wisconsin residents with accounts created since 2019 and get permission from a parent or guardian to allow children to access existing accounts or create new ones. Parents would also receive full access to their child’s account.

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