Yesterday, the governor of Florida signed a bill that will ban social media accounts for kids under the age of 14 and require parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds. Under the new law, social media companies can be found liable for up to $50,000 per incident. Barring the outcomes of expected legal challenges, the law will take effect next year on January 1.

Forrester’s March 2024 Consumer Pulse Survey explored consumer sentiment around the potential of this law — finding general and widespread agreement among the 528 US online adult respondents.

There’s Bipartisan Legislative And Consumer Support For This Law

Half (50%) of US online adults indicated they would support Florida’s bill that would ban the use of social media platforms for kids under 16. (Note: The new bill that was signed into law bans the use of social media for kids 13 and under). Cut across party lines, the data shows atypical bipartisanship, with agreement by 43% of Democrats and 57% of Republicans.

Most surprising is the breakdown by generation. Just over half (51%) of US Gen Z online adults support the (original, more extreme) bill — the exact same percentage as Baby Boomers. At 54%, US online Millennials indicated the most support, with Gen X (many of whom have teens) the least supportive at 42%.

Who Should Regulate Kids’ Social Media Use: Parents Or The Government?

Overwhelmingly — at 77% — US online adults agreed that parents, not the government, are responsible for monitoring their children’s social media use. But does that mean that the government shouldn’t regulate it? Not necessarily.

Sixty-seven percent of US online adults would support a law that requires parental consent for minors to create new social media accounts — which Florida’s HB3 bill requires of 14- and 15-year-olds. Following a more typical pattern, the younger the generation, the less support there is for this, with 59% of US Gen Z online adults indicating their support (yet still the majority).

People Believe Social Media Is Harmful When Overused

The majority of US online adults across every generation and political party believe that for teenagers, social media does more harm than good. And other than Baby Boomers, most agree that social media is just another thing that’s OK as long as it’s used in moderation. So what’s the solution to ensuring a moderated use of social media? It has always come down to a combination of efforts involving government regulation, platform tools, parental education, and kids’ awareness. But as my colleague Kelsey Chickering posted about in January, Alcohol Use Is “Age-Gated” — Why Isn’t Social Media?

The Biggest Question: How Will State Laws Be Enforced?

Yes, governments (like the Florida legislature) can pass laws to restrict social media usage, but can it actually be enforced in ways that materially make a difference? There remain lots of unanswered questions about how Florida’s HB3 gets enforced if/when it goes into effect next year. To call out just a few:

  • How will social media companies get credible parental consent for 14- and 15-year-olds looking to join (or remain on) social media?
  • What will be the blowback from teens under 14 when their accounts get deleted?
  • To what degree will AI play a leading role in preventing those under 14 from signing up?
  • What are the implications of potentially increased facial recognition of teens?
  • What happens when different states have varied laws?

So What Do Teens Think?

While everyone else weighs in about regulating teen social media use, what about the teens themselves? Forrester’s Youth Survey, 2023, finds that only 35% of US online teens ages 12–17 agree that there should be rules or limits over their social media usage.

Forrester clients: Let’s chat more about this via a Forrester guidance session.