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Governor wants to 'empower parents.' These parents want him to protect their kids from social media companies.

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Posted at 4:17 PM, Aug 08, 2023

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) made parents, and the rights of parents, a main pillar of his successful run for governor in Virginia.

In keeping with that theme, he met with a group of parents on Tuesday at Crestview Elementary School in Henrico County, in a campaign-style Town Hall dubbed a "Parents Matter Conversation."

During the conversation, one topic that received a lot of attention from the crowd of mostly Youngkin supporters was children and their use of social media.

"It is like closing a door with all the windows open," one parent shared. "I feel like anyone can come in at any time, and as much as we try to protect our children, it’s really hard and you feel incredibly vulnerable.”

“It’s ingrained in her every day, her every minute. It’s constant," another parent said about their child's social media use. "I feel I have been run over by the freight train.”

The Governor agreed with parents at the event who said communication with the child should be the first and most effective step.

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In addition to the do's and don'ts of social media sharing, they also stressed explaining to children how their personal data is both collected and used.

“Parents want more information, so they can engage more productively and more restrictively with what’s happening in their social media life," Youngkin said.

The Governor said he would like to see Virginia pass laws that would require social media companies to obtain parental consent before collecting data from children.

A bill introduced this year was passed by, so lawmakers could further study the issue.

"I’m a huge advocate for stepping in and protecting our children from data gathering and the influence that comes with it," Youngkin told the parents.

Several speakers brought up more politically divisive issues.

Some backed the Governor’s policy for the treatment of transgender students in school, greater parental involvement in the choosing of school curriculum, and the banning books some parents view as sexually suggestive.

The Virginia Education Association released a statement on some of the Governor's school-related policies.

"Parents certainly do matter," Virginia Education Association president Dr. James Fedderman said. "When Governor Youngkin engages with them, we hope that he'll really listen and discover what they most want for their children — not just encourage conversation about culture war topics.”

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