Schools would risk losing E-Rate funding for not completely blocking social media under a new GOP proposal called “The Eyes on the Board Act.”
The bill, introduced Wednesday, would require schools that receive federal broadband funding to prohibit students from accessing social media on all “subsidized services, devices, and networks.” The “The Eyes on the Board Act” was introduced just as the Federal Communications Commission was set to vote Thursday to expand E-Rate Wi-Fi funding from classrooms and libraries to school buses.
“Addictive and distracting social media apps are inviting every evil force on the planet into kids’ classrooms, homes, and minds by giving those who want to abuse or harm children direct access to communicate with them online,” Sen. Ted Cruz, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “The very least we can do is restrict access to social media at school so taxpayer subsidies aren’t complicit in harming our children.”
It was unclear whether the Democratic-controlled Senate might approve the bill, which would apply to all social media apps but singles out two by name: TikTok and Instagram.
Internet protections already in place
Currently, The Children’s Internet Protection Act, commonly known as CIPA, requires schools to have Internet filters in place to block students’ access to obscene, pornographic or harmful pictures. Schools must also teach students about appropriate online behavior and enforce Internet safety policies that mandate the monitoring of minors’ online activities.
The Eyes on the Board Act’s sponsors, who include GOP Sens. Ted Budd of North Carolina and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, said the bill would “promote parental limits and transparency” on Internet usage by requiring K12 E-Rate recipients to adopt a screen time policy. The FCC would have to maintain a database of districts’ internet safety policies to further inform parents, they explained.
“Students across the country fell behind in a big way because of COVID-era lockdowns,” Budd added in the statement. “Ever since, parents have reasserted their right to be involved in their child’s education.”