ATLANTA – The state Senate overwhelmingly passed legislation Monday aimed at protecting teenagers from cyberbullying and other negative effects of social media.

The “Protecting Georgia’s Children on Social Media Act” was a top priority of Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, who presides over the Senate.

“Social media can be a very useful tool, however there are instances in which we must rein in Big Tech in order to protect the health and safety of our children,” Jones said following the 51-1 vote. “This legislation is a tremendous step forward in our effort to combat cyberbullying and protect Georgia’s children.”

Numerous studies have found overuse of social media to pose a significant danger to young people, particularly girls, increasing their risk of suicide.

Senate Bill 351 would require social media companies to take concrete steps to verify the age of their users. Existing rules requiring schools to monitor bullying would be updated to reflect the realities of modern technology.

The legislation also would require the state Department of Education to develop and periodically update programs to educate students to use social media safely and require local school systems to adopt, implement, and enforce social media policies and submit them to the Georgia Board of Education for review. Districts that fail to comply would be subject to losing state funds.

The bill’s chief sponsor is Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, chairman of the Senate Republican Caucus.

Anavitarte’s bill now moves to the Georgia House of Representatives.