by Mary Lou Masters
Utah passed legislation Thursday to require parental consent for children to use certain social media apps, becoming the first state in the country to limit teenagers’ social media usage.
Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed two bills into law that limits minors from using social media apps like TikTok, requiring parental consent for those under 18. Minors are prohibited from using these platforms between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., and are subjected to age verification prior to social media use.
“As leaders and as parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people,” Cox said in a video announcing the legislation’s passage. “We’ve put social media companies on notice, letting them know we will be fighting them in court, and we’re empowering parents with education and tools.”
The legislation, which goes into effect in March 2024, welcomes lawsuits relating to the harmful side affects social media has had on children. SB 152 and HB 311 provide rules detailing how to sue the social media companies, requiring the platforms to prove that their apps are not harmful.
The Senate bill requires social media platforms grant parental access to their children’s accounts and prohibit direct messaging from those who the child does not follow on social media. Underage profiles will be barred from appearing in search results and the apps will be prohibited from collecting data from children’s accounts or targeting them for advertising purposes.
The House bill provides penalties for social media apps, such as a $250,000 fine when a platform targets minors with “addictive algorithms,” including a $2,500 penalty per minor.
“We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth,” Cox said in a Tweet.
Other states are pushing similar legislation to protect children from social media, including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana and New Jersey, and California passed a law last year to prevent social media apps from profiling children, according to the AP.
The legislation, led by the state’s Republican supermajority, was signed the same day as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress, largely about the effects on children’s mental health, the AP reported. TikTok did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
“We want teens to be safe online. We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including tools that let parents and teens work together to limit the amount of time teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences. … We’ll continue to work closely with experts, policymakers and parents on these important issues,” a Meta spokesperson told the DCNF in a statement.
– – –
Mary Lou Masters is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Spencer Cox” by Gov. Spencer J. Cox. Background Photo “Teen Using His Phone” by Omar Ramadan.