North Carolina Sen. Ted Budd has introduced legislation in Congress that would limit children’s access to problematic social media platforms like TikTok at schools that receive federal broadband funding.
Under current law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act requires schools receiving broadband subsidies to use software blockers for obscenity, child pornography, and other harmful sexual content. But there is no provision mandating that schools block access to social media apps or platforms that could distract students or cause them to become addicted.
In addition to curbing access to social media platforms, the newly introduced Eyes on the Board Act would require schools to adopt screen time policies and require the Federal Communications Commission to create a database of schools’ internet safety policies.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito are the measure’s other co-sponsors.
“Students across the country fell behind in a big way because of COVID-era lockdowns,” Budd said in a statement. “Ever since, parents have reasserted their right to be involved in their child’s education. That’s why I’m proud to help Senator Cruz introduce the Eyes on the Board Act, which is a commonsense solution to ensure that kids are focused on their studies at school rather than social media. If taxpayers are going to pay some of the costs for schools to be connected to the internet, then parents deserve to know that students are actually learning during school hours.”
According to sponsors, the bill was filed in response to an effort by Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel to permit schools receiving broadband subsidies to make Wi-Fi available on school buses. The FCC is set to vote on the proposal on Thursday.
Thirteen organizations released a joint letter in support of the measure, including the American College of Pediatrics, which said the proposed act “makes an honest effort through limitations of Federal funding to protect children from the harmful effects of excessive screen time, social media, and exposure to pornography.”
In August, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board joined 200 school districts across the country in suing major social media companies for contributing to a “mental health crisis” among American children. The board filed its 184-page complaint in US District Court for North Carolina’s Western District.
The suit targets owners of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube. Defendants include Meta and Google.