Utah, USA: Utah has become the first state in the US to pass laws limiting how children can use social media.
The legislation, signed by Republican Governor Spencer Cox, requires parental consent before children can sign up for sites like TikTok and Instagram.
The laws also prohibit children under 18 from using social media between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. and require age verification for anyone who wants to use social media in the state.
In addition, tech companies are prevented from luring children to their apps using addictive features.
The law is set to take effect in March 2024.
The move follows concerns about the potential impact of social media on young people’s mental health, as well as worries about issues such as privacy and hate speech.
The laws passed by Utah’s Republican-supermajority Legislature reflect growing changes in politicians’ perceptions of technology companies, even among traditionally pro-business Republicans.
Similar legislation is being considered in other states, including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and New Jersey.
In addition, California has already passed a law protecting children online.
Critics have warned that the regulations may be difficult to enforce, given that social media company is already prohibited from collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Additionally, some advocates have raised concerns about the law’s provisions around parental access to children’s social media posts, arguing that they could harm young people’s online privacy.
However, children’s advocacy groups have generally welcomed the move.
For example, Common Sense Media, a non-profit focused on children and technology, praised the law for seeking to rein in social media’s addictive features.
The organization’s CEO, Jim Steyer, called other states to follow Utah’s lead and hold social media companies accountable to protect children online.