Utah to force social media apps to get parental consent before minors given access to apps

"Youth rates of depression and other mental health issues are on the rise. And social media companies know their products are toxic."

Joshua Young North Carolina

On Thursday, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed two bills into law that make his state the first in the US to mandate that social media companies obtain parental consent for anyone under 18 years of age before they can use their apps.

Cox posted a video response to the legislation on Twitter and said, "Our administration is very concerned about how social media is affecting our children. Youth rates of depression and other mental health issues are on the rise. And social media companies know their products are toxic. They designed their apps to be addictive as leaders and as parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people."

"We 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. Join us in protecting our kids from the harms of social media," Cox added.

According to the BBC, the bills will go into effect on March 1, 2024 and will require social media companies to verify users are at least 18 years old on top of getting the parental consent for anyone under 18. The measures will also allow parents to have complete access to accounts their children use. Posts and private messages of those under 18 user will be legally allowed to be viewed by the parents.

The bills will also make legal action against social media giants easier, will prohibit the companies from harvesting children's data, prohibit advertising explicitly targeted at those under 18, and will block access for use by children between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am.

According to the Wall Street Journal, internal documents from facebook showed that the social media platform was "toxic for teen girls."

40 percent of teenagers claimed they used social media for the sake of looking good to others. 32 percent of teen girls said Instagram heightened insecurities about their body image, the outlet reported.

Jim Steyer, CEO of the children's advocacy group Commons Sense Media, "It adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online."

GOP lawmakers have introduced similar legislation to Utah in Texas, Ohio, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Jersey.


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