Utah Becomes First State To Require Parental Consent For Children To Use Social Media

After a measure was enacted on Thursday, Utah has become the first US state to require social media firms to get parental consent for children to use their apps and verify that users are at least 18.

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The governor said he signed the two sweeping measures to protect young people in the state.

The bills will give parents full access to their children’s online accounts, including posts and private messages.

The move comes amidst heightened concern over the impact of social media on children’s mental health.

Under the measures enacted on Thursday, a parent or guardian’s explicit consent will be needed before children can create accounts on apps such Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

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The bills also impose a social media curfew that blocks children’s access between 22:30 and 06:30, unless adjusted by their parents.

Under the legislation, social media companies will no longer be able to collect a child’s data or be targeted for advertising.

The two bills – which are also designed to make it easier to take legal action against social media companies – will take effect on March 1, 2024.

Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, wrote on Twitter: “We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth.

“As leaders, and parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people.”

Children’s advocacy group Commons Sense Media welcomed the governor’s move to curtail some of social media’s most addictive features, calling it a “huge victory for kids and families in Utah”.

“It adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online,” said Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO.

Around 78 percent of 13 to 17-year-olds check their phones at least once an hour every day, and 35% monitor the top five networks “almost constantly”. This is how social media is changing children’s brain.

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