Florida lawmaker’s new bill would require social media safety guidance in public schools

Next legislative session begins March 7

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Sen. Danny Burgess, R-District 23, filed a bill this month that would require teachers in public schools to provide instruction on social media safety.

The bill, SB 52, is brief. Not two full pages long, the text states it would amend state statutes for required instruction to define the term “social media” and to make it so schools’ instructional staff follow approved methods to teach social media safety lessons “efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required that meet the highest standards for professionalism and historical accuracy.” Additionally, the Florida Department of Education would have to make relevant instructional material available online and school district boards would need to notify parents that it’s there.

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Burgess reportedly wants to go further with the bill, seeking full social media safety courses in Florida public schools.

“It would make sure that kids understand the long-term ramifications and negative attributes of social media, and how it can be detrimental in the long run. Things you say today can come back and haunt you tomorrow. They don’t disappear,” Burgess said.

SB 52 was filed Dec. 1 and was since referred on Dec. 15 to the Legislature’s Committee on Education Pre-K-12, the Appropriations Committee on Education and the Committee on Fiscal Policy.

For Burgess’ suggested definition of social media, the bill described it as “a form of interactive electronic communication through an Internet website or application by which a user creates a service-specific identifying user profile to connect with other users of the Internet website or application for the purpose of communicating and sharing information, ideas, news, stories, opinions, images, videos, and other content.”

Despite its brevity, five of the bill’s 40 lines of text also discuss how the legislation would be compatible with 1003.42(2)(t), which urges educators to provide instruction on U.S. veterans — either on or before Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day — “in order to encourage patriotism.”

The next legislative session in Tallahassee begins March 7.

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Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.