This week, state Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jimmy Patronis announced his support for a proposal from state Rep. Brad Yeager, R-New Port Richey, and state Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, that requires Florida school districts to prohibit and prevent students from accessing social media platforms through the use of internet access provided by each district.
The bill calls for in-school instruction on social media safety and how best it can be utilized in personal and professional life.
“Children are the future, so I’m not sure why we would ever allow something as addicting and useless as TikTok to be allowed in our K-12 institutions. I call it digital fentanyl because you can see how addicting it is – and it especially targets our children. It fills their minds with rot and robs them of normal healthy social development. So as schools are using more-and-more technology and parents are giving their children smartphones and other devices, Florida schools should take a hard stand that this isn’t an acceptable application to be used on school grounds. I want to thank Representative Yeager and Senator Burgess for spearheading this bill,” Patronis said.
The CFO’s endorsement of HB 379 and SB 52 comes on the heels of a discussion by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) proposing to ban TikTok from higher education institutions in Florida. At a January meeting of the BOG, governors Alan Levine and Tim Cerio discussed how the platform is a privacy risk to both students and sensitive materials at college campuses, as it is a Chinese-based company and there is no distinction between companies based in China and the Chinese-Communist Party.
“School is a place for learning, and I will fight to ensure it stays that way. Social media, including platforms like TikTok, are a distraction for our students and present real dangers that they may not be aware of. I’m looking forward to working with the CFO and my colleagues during the upcoming legislative session to protect our students,” Burgess said.
“I am proud to sponsor legislation to educate students on the risks of social media from 6-12 grade. Social media and TikTok in general has proven to be an addicting force in our culture, and access should be forbidden in our schools. A huge thank you to CFO Patronis for supporting this legislation and being such a strong advocate for Florida’s students,” Yeager said.
Under Patronis, the Department of Financial Services banned TikTok in 2020.
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