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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Bill establishing minimum age for social media use goes to governor’s desk

Rep. José Enrique Meléndez Ortiz

By The Star Staff

House Bill 262, which establishes 18 as the minimum age for a person to activate an account on any social media platform in Puerto Rico, is on its way to the Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia’s desk for evaluation.

The measure, authored by at-large Rep. José Enrique “Quiquito” Meléndez Ortiz, was unanimously approved in the Senate (26-0) on June 25.

The legislation also seeks, among other things, that parents approve that minors, up to 18 years of age, can open accounts on social media platforms with all the available security filters, something that rarely happens now.

“I thank the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, for validating this initiative,” Meléndez said. “There is no doubt that the use of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat, among others, are a matter of responsibility for parents and their children. There must be a minimum age for these young people to enter the networks and that age is 18 years old with parental supervision. This is one that Congress is working on. Last May, a group of senators, both Republicans and Democrats, filed a bill to establish the minimum age that a minor can enter social networks at 13 years old. This happens as a direct consequence of the adult content that minors expose themselves to and the notorious ‘challenges,’ as well as the rawness of much graphic material, which has made Congress act, as they have determined that it is a matter of the mental health of our children. Here in Puerto Rico we have the tool to face this with the approval of Bill 262.”

In 2023, Meléndez held several meetings with U.S. congressmen to, among other issues, discuss greater controls on minors for access to social networks, including guidance to parents and/or guardians on the risks posed by social media platforms.

“This bill in no way intends for the government to intervene in the personal affairs of any person,” the lawmaker said. “[Rather] it seeks to create a framework for parents and/or guardians to act to prevent minors from being targeted by materials aimed at adults.”

The state of Montana, which in early 2023 passed legislation to ban the use of TikTok on all devices, the first jurisdiction in the nation to do so, is now considering raising the minimum age for young people to have accounts on social networks from 13 to 18.

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