A proposal that would require the Florida Department of Education to make instruction on “social media safety” available for students began advancing Tuesday in the Senate.

School districts would be required to notify parents of the online resources. The Senate Education PreK-12 Committee unanimously approved the measure (SB 52) after making a change to flesh out what lessons would be included in the materials.

For example, the instruction would have to be “age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate” for students in sixth through 12th grades and focus on the “social, emotional, and physical effects” of social media.

The instruction also would be required to include lessons about advantages of social-media use, including career and resume-building, and risks of social media, including addiction, publication of misinformation and negative effects on mental health. Instruction about how to safely use social media, including lessons on “identifying predatory behavior and human trafficking,” also would be required.

Bill sponsor Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, told the panel that social media has a “pervasive influence” on young people’s everyday lives.

“As parents, it is getting increasingly harder to protect your kids and shield them from the realities of the world. And it is something that we struggle to do alone, because this is an ever-evolving field in the digital world,” Burgess said.

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