Florida Bill Will Require Schools to Teach Benefits, Risks of Social Media

A proposed bill in Florida could require schools to develop curriculum about the complexities of social media.

The Senate Education Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan bill on Tuesday. If passed by two other committees and the Senate, the bill would require school districts to create learning plans to teach students about the benefits and risks of social media. Furthermore, it would provide a strict definition of social media, a first for a Florida state law.

Republican Senator Danny Burgess is sponsoring the bill, telling the Associated Press that children are "losing their innocence more and more every day" due to the content they see online. He hopes that the new bill will teach both students and parents about how to use such platforms in a positive manner.

According to the Florida Phoenix, staff analysis concluded that social media is an integral and always changing part of today's society. Benefits listed in this analysis include sharing work and connecting over interests, while drawbacks were privacy concerns and exposure to potentially dangerous individuals.

The House will also receive its own identical version of the bill. While it is unknown when the other committees will meet to discuss the bill, the Florida State Legislature will meet for its 60-day session on January 11, 2022.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Social Media
A new bill introduced in Florida would require schools to create curriculum about the complexities of social media to students. In this photo illustration, the Facebook and Instagram apps are seen on the screen of an iPhone on October 4 in San Anselmo, California. Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Florida Phoenix cited the definition of social media according to the new bill as any "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, and other content."

While Burgess said that parents should be involved in this discussion at home, many aren't familiar with the variety of social media platforms children have access to.

"All these different platforms that are out there, I'm not very savvy with them. I have my government stuff that I utilize. But other than that, I don't have a personal page, so it's hard for me to talk to my kids who are coming up in age about these risks," Burgess said.

The bill received enthusiastic support from Democrats and Republicans.

"You look at how social media is morphing, and some of the stuff and the content that's coming across is dangerous," said Democratic Senator Shevrin Jones.

Republican Senator Jennifer Bradley encouraged Burgess to think about expanding the bill's language to include other online activity.

"I love this bill," Bradley said. "I almost think the bill could even be a little bit broader, there's certainly your social media platforms, but there's a lot that happens online with websites."