New Social Media Restrictions for children under 16 in Ohio

Pictured is Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine at the State of the State address on Wednesday, March 23, 2022. Photo courtesy of Barbara Perenic for The Columbus Dispatch and AP.

Elizabeth Barker | Contributing Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio in mid-January issued The Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act, which grants parents oversight of their children’s social media use as well as online services and products that are aimed at children. 

Under the law, operators must obtain parental consent before establishing accounts for children under age 16. They must also present parents with a list of censoring or content moderation features. When consent is granted, operators are then tasked with sending confirmation of the account to the parent or legal guardian. 

When consent is not given, operators must deny the child access to the platform, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s website. Arkansas, California, and Utah are among other states working to create stricter social media laws for minors. The primary goals under a majority of these social media restriction laws are to protect minors from inappropriate content, mental health issues, and data privacy concerns while using social media, according to WKYC.

Under the pending legislation, if operators fail to provide notification or a parent wishes to terminate a child’s access, the parent can file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at

Companies that do not comply could also face civil penalties of up to $10,000 a day. However, operators are not required to notify parents about accounts created before Jan. 15. Attorney General Dave Yost is spearheading this Act and has received support from Gov. Mike DeWine to get it enacted into law. However, big tech companies are not going down without a fight.

Yost is among other government officials being met with a lawsuit from NetChoice, a national trade organization that represents big tech companies such as Meta, Google, and TikTok. NetChoice recently filed a motion for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order against Yost on the grounds that the Act unconstitutionally imposes parental consent limitations for children under 16 to access and engage in protected speech, according to Huntington Privacy Blog.

In current court proceedings, NetChoice claims that the Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act will violate its members’ organizations’ First and 14th Amendment rights and that the Act is too broad. NetChoice also argued that the Act infringes on minors’ rights to both access and produce First Amendment-protected speech.

A preliminary injunction hearing in NetChoice v. Yost was scheduled for early February and a ruling is expected Feb. 12.

According to NetChoice’s website, the company’s purpose is to make the Internet safe for free enterprise and free expression. NetChoice has made its stance on digital protection clear, agreeing that it is needed.

Krista Chavez, a senior communications manager at NetChoice, said that many proposals they have seen have been unconstitutional and have serious privacy and security issues, even though lawmakers have good intentions.

“We hear their concerns and the concerns of parents, and we offered alternatives that won’t run afoul of the U.S. Constitution or create serious data use concerns,” Chavez said. “We’ve had rulings from judges in three separate cases so far that support these concerns.”

These rulings include District Court cases in California, Arkansas, and Ohio.

Richik Sarkar, a litigation attorney at Dinsmore and Shohl, a national law firm with offices in Cincinnati, provided insight into why federal judges have temporarily blocked these laws from going into effect.

“Federal judges in Ohio, Arkansas, and other states have cited potential violations of the

First Amendment and raising concerns about the laws’ vagueness and their broad impact on both minors’ and adults’ access to speech,” Sarkar said.

Some of the implications include the burden they could place on minors’ and adults’ access to constitutionally protected speech.

“While protecting minors online is a paramount concern, Courts will focus on ensuring that regulatory measures do not infringe upon constitutional rights or harm the very demographic they seek to protect,” Sarkar said.

Amid these court proceedings, tech companies such as NetChoice are proposing alternative ideas about online safety rather than state-level initiatives and federal regulations.

On Jan. 9, NetChoice introduced SHIELD, a campaign designed to encourage lawmakers and tech industries to work together and formulate functional and constitutional solutions, according to NetChoice’s website.

“The ultimate goal of the SHIELD campaign is to get these policies implemented by the tech industry, states, and the federal government to make sure that all Americans feel empowered and protected online,” Chavez said.

As of right now, The Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act is not set to go into effect in Ohio because of the preliminary injunction granted by the court. With other courts doing the same in other states, whether campaigns such as SHIELD be the solution to digital protection remains to be seen.

Find out more about Ohio’s Parental Notification by Social Media Operators Act and

NetChoice’s SHIELD by visiting


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