Florida Senate Bill 52, which focuses on social media safety in the state’s public schools, has been thoroughly reviewed and revised as legislators met in committee meetings and special sessions this past week. The proposal sponsored by Zephyrhills Republican Senator Danny Burgess was amended in the Senate Pre-K12 Education Committee last Tuesday to align it effectively with its companion bill, House Bill 379.
Broward Democratic Senator Rosalind Osgood also sponsored the bill as it went through the committee. A similar bill was previously filed last year but failed to make it through its first committee.
Additions to the bill include specifications on the instruction being introduced in K-12 programs. The bill states that it must consist of education on the advantages of social media, the risks of social media, and how to maintain safe access to online features.
The goal is to ensure that students understand how to engage positively in connecting with others and having access to infinite information while also highlighting negative aspects like human trafficking and the “permanent nature of content shared online.”
The Senate bill’s main amendment was adding the prohibition of access to social media platforms on the Internet provided by the district, which is already stated in its companion bill.
Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued a statement following the bill’s passing in the committee, outlining his support for the legislation and the dangers of social media apps on young minds.
“I’ve said this time and time again that TikTok is digital fentanyl and has no place in our schools,” Patronis said. “Children are the future, so we need to work together to do everything we can to protect them and set them up for success.”
Zantae Copeland, a third-year elementary education major, teaches at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical Developmental Research School and is interested in how the legislation will affect the necessary curriculum taught in class.
“Excessive screen time is slowly diminishing the attention spans of our students, making it harder for them to complete work and focus in class,” Copeland said. “All things considered, social media should be learned at home where parents can closely monitor their child’s usage of their platforms to their liking.”
Copeland shares the concern that this new bill will shift focus within public schools away from necessities like developing interpersonal skills and social-emotional learning by further integrating online access into their lives.
The bill will be voted on in the Appropriations Committee on Education and one other committee before being heard on the Senate floor.