Governor vetoes bill that would have blocked social media for users under 16
Illustration by Addyson Leathers
Illustration by Addyson Leathers

As sophomore Evangeline Trazzera scrolls through videos on her TikTok feed, she feels a sense of nostalgia, watching similar content to what she saw growing up on social media.
“I have been using social media since probably second grade,” Trazzera said. “My parents would always give me their old phones, and I had Snapchat just to text them, my friends and to use the fun filters. I also watched things like slime and life hack videos on YouTube.”
On Jan. 23, the Florida Senate passed House Bill 1  banning Floridians under the age of 16 from using social media. But on March 1, Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed the bill, which would have required social media platforms to prohibit children under the age of 16 from creating accounts and to delete existing underage accounts. The bill also would have “[authorized] the Department of Legal Affairs to bring actions for violations under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act; providing penalties; [provide] for private causes of actions; [and provide] that certain social media platforms are subject to the jurisdiction of state courts.”
“I feel like the bill did have a few benefits,” Trazzera said. “Growing up fast is something that is definitely controversial to older generations. Sometimes I do wish that I could have held on to my youth more, and social media definitely played a part in growing up fast. I think that getting your hands dirty and viewing the world as a place with no downsides is an extremely important thing for young kids.”
Senior Sean McLeod said he recalls a notable memory involving social media that has stuck with him and influenced his outlook.
“When I was like 12, I accidentally came across an image of a woman with her waist impaled,” McLeod said. “I think being chronically online inevitably exposed me to a ton of gore, which messed me up at first but at a certain point it stopped bothering me so much because the repeated exposure kind of numbs you to it.”
He said he keeps this in mind as he thinks about the impact of children potentially discovering similar images.
“I really don’t think kids should be on the internet much at all just because of how easy it can be to see stuff like this,” McLeod said.
Freshman Ezra Yoro said he has experienced similar occurrences.
“I have seen many videos of gore shared online with no warning whatsoever,” he said. “I feel there needs to be some way to regulate online content, maybe this bill would have helped.”
However, social media and debate teacher Heather da Silva said she opposes the principle of this bill’s proposition.
“Honestly, I kind of dismissed it as a joke,” da Silva said. “This is another example of overreach, and it’s not fair. Essentially, what this bill does is tells parents that they don’t know how to manage their children. I just don’t have enough words to describe how aggravating that is.”
Trazerra said she agrees that the negative effects of social media won’t be fixed with a bill.
“Kids are exposed to things every single day,” she said. “Parents, teachers and other students all contribute to this as well. Social media is not the only cause of growing up quickly. I don’t believe in censorship, so I do think that social media is not always the issue, but kids should also be able to enjoy their youth.”
Da Silva noted the connection between her generation’s use of technology and Generation Z’s reliance on social media.
“It’s as much a part of you guys as the Nintendo was my generation — there was nothing nicer than hearing that AOL dial tone,” da Silva said. “But at the same time, because a lot of teenagers have lived their lives so publicly available online, that obviously comes with downsides.”
According to the Lancet journal, in 2024, 27 percent of frequent social-media-using teens ages 13-17 reported feelings of high psychological stress, compared to 17 percent of those who use social media less frequently.
“I have been on social media since I was around seven or eight years old,” Yoro said. “I do feel that being on the internet from such a young age has negatively impacted my attention span and creativity because of its addictive tendencies.”
Da Silva said she believes these negative effects were unapparent in the boom of the technological age.
“Should there have been better oversight?” da Silva said. “Yeah. But that’s easy to say, when you’re looking backwards.”
Yoro said this bill wouldn’t have stopped him from using social media.
“I would definitely lie about my age,” Yoro said. “I have friends I would not be able to speak to otherwise, and social media it has been one of my biggest inspirations for my art.”
Similarly, da Silva said she foresees teenagers doing this without hesitation.
“As Judge Judy says, ‘How do you know when a teenager is lying? When they open their mouth,’” da Silva said. “While I don’t think it’s that extreme, yes, you guys are going to lie about your age — why wouldn’t you? The bill only created more problems to prove a point.”
This bill would have possibly placed restraints on da Silva’s course, as her curriculum relies on the existence of social media platforms.
“I have to be careful enough as it is, but this would restrict what I do and don’t do even further,” she said. “I usually can’t access social media websites, but that also means I’m not going to be able to really even talk about them as a whole. I’m most likely going to have to get a signed permission slip that says, ‘You understand your child might be exposed to the existence of the former Twitter and Instagram,’ or they’re just going to have to restrict the class to juniors and seniors. None of that is good.”
Trazerra said social media has had an immense impact on her life, and this bill would have eliminated the communication benefits social media can have on the upcoming generation.
“Social media has shaped me as a person and strengthened my relationships,” Trazzera said. “Those funny YouTube videos I used to watch will occasionally come up on my TikTok or Instagram, and I will send them to my friends. Even if I haven’t talked to my friends in New York in months, I will still send them the videos. It starts a conversation with them, where I may not have texted them for another few months if I hadn’t seen it.”