Much to the delight of many Ohio parents that were looking for an excuse NOT to buy a phone for their child — the Ohio Social Media Parental Notification Act has recently been passed by the state of Ohio. The Social Media Parental Notification Act, signed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, will take effect on January, 15th, 2024, and requires minors under 16 to get their parent’s permission before using social media. This permission cannot just be verbal; it must be given in written form and signed electronically.
Some have complained that the government has no business interfering. In most cases, I would agree. However, we have known for many years that social media can and often does create anxiety and depression in some teens and tweens. Yet, Silicon Valley has done little or nothing to police themselves.
This is no different than age-based laws related to tattoos, driving, and drinking. Each was created to protect children from making mistakes that often cannot be reversed.
For example: In most states, you must be at least 18 to get a tattoo.
The minimum legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years.
The legal driving age varies by state between 15 and 18.
Like all of the above age-based laws, this Ohio Act attempts to mitigate the risks of a child hurting themselves or another child.
How Will It Work:
In January of 2024, the act will require social media and gaming companies to obtain “verifiable parental consent” to contractual terms of service before permitting juveniles under 16 to use their platforms. Companies like Facebook (Meta), Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and other social media and online gaming apps would be required to create a separate splash page when someone enters their age as 16 or younger. The app would then be required to obtain parental approval and send the parents a letter with written confirmation.
This was the intent of the federal COPPA Act in 1998 but has teeth that were almost non-existent following the growth of apps that started in late 2007 with the release of the iPhone.
One of our greatest concerns is how it will impact certain adult websites such as Omegle.com, PornHub, and FansOnly. Currently, most adult sites require that you agree that you are at least 18. Once you click YES, you enter the site. There is no verification.
Time will tell how this Ohio law, and those instituted by about 13 other states will work in the years to come. To learn more, listen to our interview on Cincinnati’s Local12.