Proposed bill aims to restrict social media usage in Florida classrooms

A proposed house and senate bill is targeting the use of social media in schools. One of the bills would prevent the use of any social media in K through 12 schools if you are using their network. The bills would also require teachings on the good, bad and ugly sides of social media. 

"It’s digital fentanyl for our children," said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. 

Patronis feels social media is having an adverse effect on Florida’s youth. He supports SB 52 and HB 379 that their access to it in the classroom. 

"Just get the kids focused on school. They are there to learn," said State Rep. Brad Yeager of Pasco County. "We need to create an environment that really helps the classroom, the teachers in the classroom, and takes away any distractions that we can."

Representative Yeager filled HB 397 which would also require age-appropriate education on social media for students in middle and high school. 

The legislation would require school curriculum to include the teaching of the advantages social media has like staying connected with family and career building. It would teach the dangers including addictions, misinformation and its negative effects on mental health. It would also discuss social media safety like protecting personal information and identifying scams or predators. 

"I don’t think anyone would disagree that educating our children on social media is very important," said Carmen Stanford of Flagler County. 

Stanford has no problem with her children learning more about social media, but she questions the need for banning the apps in the classroom. 

"It comes down to getting to parents’ choices and parents’ rights," said Stanford. "We have to be careful not to control the children. I think we have to teach them. We have to educate them and that’s why the educational aspect of this is important."

One local psychologist agrees that social media has had an inverse effect on children. She adds that too much social media is limiting children’s productivity and stunting their social skills.

"I’m seeing more social anxiety and social discomfort with some face-to-face, interactions and more tendency to want to stay home and be online with people than interact with people face-to-face," said Dr. Wendy Rice of Rice Psychology Group. 

Yeager says that social media apps would only be blocked on school-issued devices and not your personal devices as long as they remain disconnected from the school Wi-Fi.