SALT LAKE CITY, UT. - On Thursday, Utah made history by becoming the first state in the US to pass a law prohibiting children and teenagers from using social media without their parents' permission. The move is seen as a bold step in safeguarding young people from the potential adverse effects of social media on their mental health.
Governor Spencer Cox (R) signed two bills into law to prevent businesses from luring minors to specific websites and limiting when and where people under 18 can interact online. The first bill requires social media companies to implement a curfew for children in the state starting on March 1, 2024. From that date, minors will be prohibited from using their accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
The second bill mandates that businesses grant parental or guardian access to their children's accounts. In addition, to use social media, adults must verify their age or risk losing access to their accounts.
The legislation was proposed amid growing concerns from national experts and policymakers regarding the potential negative effects that social media may have on young users' mental health. In addition, Governor Cox has previously stated that he anticipates filing a lawsuit to oppose the legislation.
Last week, TechFreedom's free speech lawyer Ari Cohn criticized the bills, claiming they violated the First Amendment and threatened to fragment the Internet. Cohn argued that bills that force online entertainment clients to give ID revealing how old they might be, and for minors, parental assent, should not be signed into law.
Despite potential legal challenges, many believe Utah's new laws could set a precedent for other states. Several states, including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana, have similar bills currently under consideration.
According to a report by Axios' Kim Bojórquez and Erin Alberty, social media companies are being blamed for the rise in youth depression and other mental health issues.
We, as parents and leaders, have a duty to safeguard our children," tweeted Governor Cox.
However, critics argue that parents and guardians are responsible for monitoring their children's online activity and educating them about the potential risks of social media use. They also point out that social media can be valuable for communication, networking, and education.
The debate around social media regulation will continue as lawmakers grapple with balancing the benefits and risks of online interaction. Nevertheless, Utah's landmark legislation marks a significant milestone in the ongoing conversation about social media's impact on society, particularly on young people.
What do you think about Utah's new law prohibiting children and teens from using social media without their parents' permission? Is it a necessary step to protect young people's mental health or an overreach of government regulation? Share your thoughts in the comments, and if you found this article worth reading, show some love and buy me a coffee. It will be greatly appreciated and might even prevent me from falling asleep on my keyboard.
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