On Thursday the Arkansas Senate narrowly passed a bill that would help protect children in Arkansas from accessing social media sites without parental consent.

S.B. 396, the Social Media Safety Act, by Sen. Tyler Dees (R – Siloam Springs) and Rep. Jon Eubanks (R – Paris) says that social media companies must use age verification to ensure minors do not access social media platforms without parental consent.

The bill contains protections for user privacy. A social media company that violated the law could be held liable.

More and more, we hear stories illustrating how social media platforms host content that isn’t suitable for children. The adults who operate these platforms should not be able to register children as users without parental consent.

In February the American Psychological Association’s Chief Science Officer told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee that social media use heightens the risk of negative influences among adolescents, and that young people are accessing social media sites that promote eating disorders and other harmful behavior.

In December, news outlets reported how social media giant TikTok’s algorithm was suggesting videos that promoted self-harm and eating disorders to teenagers.

Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has published an analysis determining that social media is a major cause of mental illness in girls.

And a recent CDC report found 16% of high school students were electronically bullied in 2021 through texting, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media platforms.

Legislation like S.B. 396 would help parents and social media companies protect children from harmful content online.

S.B. 396 overwhelmingly passed in the Arkansas House on Wednesday. The bill now goes to Governor Sanders to be signed into law.

The Following Senators Voted For S.B. 396

  • J. Boyd
  • L. Chesterfield
  • A. Clark
  • Crowell
  • Dees
  • J. English
  • Gilmore
  • K. Hammer
  • Hester
  • B. Johnson
  • M. Johnson
  • F. Love
  • M. McKee
  • J. Payton
  • C. Penzo
  • J. Petty
  • Rice
  • Stone
  • G. Stubblefield
  • D. Sullivan
  • D. Wallace

The Following Senators Voted Against S.B. 396

  • J. Dismang
  • Hickey
  • Hill

The Following Senators Voted “Present”

  • J. Bryant
  • B. Davis
  • J. Dotson
  • Flippo
  • Irvin
  • B. King
  • G. Leding
  • C. Tucker

The Following Senator Did Not Vote

  • R. Murdock

The Following Senators Were Excused From Voting

  • Caldwell
  • S. Flowers