Utah, a Republican-led state, has passed multiple bills to restrict access to social media platforms for young people — becoming the first state to implement such restrictions.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) approved the legislation on Thursday, signing two laws that contain several restrictions on social media platforms.
We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth. Today we signed two key bills in our fight against social media companies into law:
— Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox (@GovCox) March 23, 2023
These laws order social media companies to confirm the age of any Utah resident that signs up to their platform, as well as provide the parents of these minors with access to their posts and messages. The measures also restrict social media companies from capturing personal information from minors or targeting them. Young people in the state are also now restricted from using social media between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. unless a parent consents to adjust the restriction.
Utah’s legislation also allows individuals who have suffered damages from using social media to file lawsuits against the platform.
Critics have argued that social media is seriously detrimental to the mental health of American youth, and have accused social media companies of creating addictive algorithms that maximize use of their apps — especially by teenagers and children.
The truth is, most ADULTS struggle with smartphone and social media addiction, and some degree of negative mental health and social ramifications.
So giving unsupervised and unfettered access to a small, mentally underdeveloped child is a disaster waiting to happen.
— ZUBY: (@ZubyMusic) August 1, 2022
Utah state Sen. Michael McKell (R) spoke out about the new laws, expressing hope that other states implement similar restrictions.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen a time in American history where mental health has been so problematic,” McKell said. “I hope we see action across the nation.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Facebook’s parent company Meta has released a statement defending the social media platform’s practices.
“We want teens to be safe online,” they claimed in the statement. “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,” the statement concluded.
While Republicans continue to try to restrict minors’ access to social media across the country, many have pointed to the negative effects that social media has on people — including allowing anonymous bullying that has led to teenage suicide.