Bill would require parental permission for minors to have social media accounts

DES MOINES — A bill introduced in the Iowa House would require parental permission before Iowans under the age of 18 could create a social media account on websites or smart phone apps like SnapChat.

Tom Chapman, executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference, said his church urges parents to actively monitor social media use by their children. “Anybody who’s been a parent recently knows that minors can easily create and use social media accounts without parental awareness or supervision,” Chapman says, “and we’d like to give parents a chance to help.”

The “Social Media Parental Authorization Act” would require platforms like Instagram or TikTok to verify a parent or guardian has granted written and digital permission for a minor to have an account. The bill cleared a House subcommittee this morning.

Representative Sami Scheetz, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, supported it. “I love the intent of this bill,” Scheetz said. “As somebody who grew up in the social media age I understand how damaging social media can be to the mental health of young people.”

But Scheetz said the bill needs work because, as written, it would be hard to enforce and likely would be challenged in court.

There are other bills in the legislature designed to restrict minors’ access to social media. The governor has proposed requiring people to upload an I.D. like a driver’s license to prove they’re an adult before getting access to sites with pornographic content.