Ohio lawmakers propose law requiring parental consent for kids under 16 to use social media

Ohio's governor wants the state to require parental consent for kids under 16 to get new accounts on TikTok, Snapchat and other social media platforms.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine's two-year budget proposal would create a law that social media companies must obtain a parent's permission for children to sign up for social media and gaming apps. The proposal also names YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, but the proposal would apply broadly, to "any online web site, online service, online product, or online feature that requires consumer consent to register, sign up, or otherwise create a unique username."

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who is driving the initiative, said it would not apply to "e-commerce" or "online shopping."

"Social media companies produce a product that is intentionally addictive to our children and has been proven harmful to kids," Husted said. "Parents should know about it before it happens and social media companies should be held accountable."

Companies subject to the regulations would have to produce methods to determine if a user is under 16 and send written confirmation to parents to verify their consent is legitimate. If parents do not sign off on the companies' terms of service, their children couldn't use the platforms. The restrictions would apply only to new account creation.

Social media companies also would have to create an introductory screen known as a "splash page" for age verification. If the user indicates they're under 16, a parent could verify consent by signing a digital form, providing government identification, connecting with "trained personnel" over video chat, using a credit or debit card or other online payment system, or calling a toll-free number.

A similar bill has received bipartisan support in the Democratic-majority Connecticut Legislature but hasn't yet gone to a vote.