What Does The Recent Development in The Social Media Safety Act Mean for Parents?

What Does The Recent Development in The Social Media Safety Act Mean for Parents?

In the ever-evolving world of technology, every parent’s fear is their child becoming too attached to the internet and potentially meeting someone dangerous on social media.

Arkansas legislatures have recognized this too, ultimately enforcing S.B. 396, or The Social Media Safety Act, which requires minors to get consent from their parents to create social media accounts. There have recently been new developments, what does this mean for Arkansas parents? 

Understanding S.B. 396: The Social Media Safety Act

NetChoice, a tech trade group including Facebook Meta, TikTok, and Twitter, sued Arkansas earlier this year over S.B. 396 that makes parental consent mandatory for minors to create social media accounts. 

The law, effective from September 1, mandates age verification through third-party vendors. 

But NetChoice disagrees: “S.B. 396 imposes onerous obligations on ’social media companies’ that severely burden both minors’ and adults’ First Amendment rights to speak, listen, and associate without government interference on the widely used online services that it covers,” the lawsuit said.

This legal challenge arises amid rising concerns about social media’s impact on teen mental health, positioning Arkansas among states addressing these issues through legislation.

(Arkansas governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signing SB 396 into law in April 2023)

Recently, U.S. District Judge Timothy L. Brooks expressed skepticism about its constitutionality, emphasizing the need to focus on the content of online platforms rather than imposing age-related restrictions. 

“Age-gating social media platforms for adults and minors does not appear to be an effective approach when, in reality, it is the content on particular platforms that is driving the state’s true concerns,” said Judge Brooks.

He temporarily blocked the enforcement of the Social Media Safety Act, also known as SB396, in Arkansas. He issued a preliminary injunction on November 27, 2023, stating that the law is likely to be found unconstitutional. The injunction will remain in place until the case is resolved.

This means that the law cannot be enforced until the case is resolved. The state of Arkansas can appeal the decision, and the case may be heard in a higher court.

Navigating Social Media as Co-Parents

Although this act may not come into play anytime soon, the implications of this law and its topics — social media safety — may introduce new challenges for co-parents. Common issues Hickey & Hull Law Firms often see include:

  • Age Restrictions: While the intention is to protect children from potential online risks, disagreements may arise between parents regarding the appropriate age for a child to start using social media.
  • Content Concerns: Co-parents may have varying opinions on the type of content their children should be exposed to online — for example, the types of social media accounts they can and can’t use. 
  • Parental Consent: The notion of requiring parental consent for a child to engage in social media raises questions about decision-making authority. It’s not uncommon for parents to find themselves at odds when determining who has the final say on granting consent for their child’s online activities.

Are You In Disagreement About Social Media and Your Children?

In the age of social media, disagreements between co-parents about their children’s online presence are increasingly common. As legal professionals experienced in family law, we understand the complexities that can arise when co-parents hold differing views on social media use for their children. 

We suggest:

  • Open Communication: Foster open and honest communication about your concerns and values regarding your child’s online presence. Our legal experts can provide strategies for effective communication during these discussions.
  • Mediation Services: In cases of persistent disagreement, our firm offers mediation services. Mediation provides a structured and neutral environment where co-parents can work collaboratively to find common ground, guided by a trained mediator.
  • Legal Counsel: If disagreements escalate and legal intervention becomes necessary, our team is well-equipped to represent your interests. We navigate the legal complexities surrounding family law to ensure your rights and the best interests of your child are protected.

Hickey & Hull Law Partners is dedicated to assisting you in finding resolutions that prioritize your child’s well-being while respecting your parental rights. 

Whether legal representation or a simple consultation, we are here to support you in reaching agreements that serve the best interests of your family in the digital age.

Chat, fill out our online form, or contact us today to get a free consultation. Our River Valley office number is 479.434.2414, and our Northwest Arkansas number is 479.802.6560.