Utah Governor Spencer Cox has signed two new laws aimed at protecting children from the harmful effects of social media. The laws, which will take effect in March 2024, will require parental consent for children under 18 to use social media apps, mandate age verification, and prohibit children from using social media between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am. In addition, the legislation allows for lawsuits to be brought on behalf of children who claim social media has harmed them.
The laws were introduced in response to concerns about the impact of social media on children’s mental health, as well as the addictive features of social media apps that are designed to keep users engaged. Studies have shown that excessive social media use can lead to a range of negative effects, including anxiety, depression, and a lack of sleep.
Governor Cox explained the rationale behind the laws, stating that “social media companies have a responsibility to protect children from the harmful effects of their products. These laws will help ensure that children are not lured into using social media apps by addictive features and are not exposed to ads that are not appropriate for their age.”
The laws are expected to face legal challenges from social media companies, who may argue that they violate free speech and other constitutional protections. However, Governor Cox is confident that the laws will withstand legal scrutiny, stating that “the safety and well-being of our children must come first, and we are confident that these laws are both necessary and constitutional.”
The laws have also drawn criticism from digital privacy advocacy groups, who argue that they will limit children’s access to online resources and infringe on their privacy. However, Governor Cox has emphasized that the laws are designed to protect children’s health and safety, and that parents will still be able to make informed decisions about their children’s online activity.
Utah is not the only state taking action to protect children from the harmful effects of social media. Other states, both red and blue, are also advancing similar proposals, indicating a growing recognition of the need to regulate social media in the interest of public health and safety.
The new laws represent an important step towards protecting children from the negative effects of social media. By requiring parental consent, mandating age verification, and prohibiting social media use during certain hours, the laws aim to ensure that children are not exposed to harmful content or addictive features that can have a lasting impact on their mental health and well-being. While the laws are likely to face legal challenges, they represent an important initiative to protect children in the digital age.