Bill Would Require Iowa Parents Permission for 14-17 Year Olds to Have Social Media Accounts

(Radio Iowa) A bill eligible for debate in the Iowa House would require permission from a parent before Iowa teens between the ages of 14 and 17 could have an account on Instagram or other types of social media. Republican Representative John Wills of Spirit Lake says that’s a change from the original bill, which would have barred any minor in Iowa from having a social media account.

“We are at least trying to get that parent to have some skin the game and understand: ‘Maybe my kid is acting this way because they’re actually being bullied or maybe something’s happening on social media and I need to monitor that,'” Wills says. Studies have shown social media use can be a major distraction for teenagers by disrupting their sleep and promoting unrealistic views about their own body image. Wills says for those and other reasons, it’s time to try something.

“It’s not going to be perfect,” Wills says, “but with the number of suicides and with the (amount) of cyberbulling and all of these other things…there needs to be some additional protections from the government.” A federal law prohibits social media platforms and other online sites from collecting data about children 13 and under without parental permission — essentially requiring a parent to sign off on a sign up for Instagram, TikTok and other social media. The bill cleared the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday (Monday) with the support of all but two Republicans. Democrats on the panel opposed it. Some are pressing for more changes in the bill to ensure it does not prevent students from using social media platforms for homework and other school activities.