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Ohio leaders discuss Social Media Parental Notification Act included in State Budget

The act would put parental restrictions in place for any adolescent under the age of 16 wanting to use social media or online gaming platforms.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The push to give parents more control over their child’s social media continues, as Governor Mike DeWine’s administration works to get the Social Media Parental Notification Act in the executive budget passed.

Gov. DeWine held a press conference Monday morning to discuss the details of the act along with Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Tony Coder, executive director of Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation, and Lori Criss, director of Ohio Dept. of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

"None of us would think it’s a good idea to allow a stranger to have a conversation in the privacy of your child's room and collect data on them, yet that's exactly what's happening through these social media applications,” Lt. Gov. Husted said.

The act would put parental restrictions in place for any adolescent under the age of 16 wanting to use social media or online gaming platforms.

"I believe that this act that Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted are advocating for will be another way that parents can help their children navigate the very difficult trails of social media…that by knowing the social media platforms that their children are on, they can also monitor and help their child when they see them in a troubling spot on a social media platform,” Coder said.

Husted said they’ve allowed social media companies to weigh in the on the framework of the act, to ensure they can comply with what it would require.

Until its passed, there are other measures parents can take to get more involved.

"There are tools that families can use not only to monitor their own child's social media use to protect their children but also to supervise and parent their children who may be using it in inappropriate ways as well,” Criss said.

Criss said there are free tools available online for parents looking for advice on how to talk to their kids about social media use, like the Center of Excellence Social Media and Youth Mental Health Q&A Portal.

There’s also a number of smartphone apps that allow parents to pay for services like real-time monitoring of texts and social media.

Cyber Dive is a company that created a smartphone known as Aqua One. Its designed with parents in mind to be able to monitor their child’s activity.

"Every action that a child takes on social media regardless of what platform, all of that is sent to a parent dashboard, all in real time,” Jeff Gottfurcht, Cyber Dive CEO and co-founder, said.

Gottfurcht said the phone is able to track more than 3,700 social media sites. As a parent himself, he said its to put parents’ minds at ease.

"We wanted parents to have the power and the ability to see who is talking to their kids in the bedroom at night when the door is closed,” Gottfurcht said.

The Aqua One smartphone also locks three times a day to check in on the child’s mental health.

Gottfurcht attended the press conference Monday to show his support for state legislation to give power back to the parents.

"It is time for government to help take control of what is happening to kids and it starts at the state government,” Gottfurcht said.

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