Updated Mar 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Utah becomes first state to sign law limiting kids' social media use

A looks at a smartphone screen on March 16 in England. Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Utah became on Thursday the first state to enact legislation that restricts children and teens from using social media without their parents' consent.

Driving the news: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed two bills into law aimed at limiting when and where anyone younger than 18 years old can interact online, and to stop companies from luring minors to certain websites.

Details: Under the law that's due to take effect on March 1, 2024, social media companies will have to instate a curfew for minors in the state, barring them from using their accounts from 10:30pm to 6:30am.

  • It also requires companies to give a parent or guardian access to their child’s accounts.

Of note: Adults will also have to confirm their ages to use social media platforms or they'll lose account access.

Between the lines: The proposed legislation comes as experts and policymakers nationwide are warning about the mental health consequences social media may have on young users, Axios' Kim Bojórquez and Erin Alberty report.

What they're saying: "Youth rates of depression and other mental health issues are on the rise because of social media companies," Cox said in a tweet Thursday. "As leaders, and parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people."

  • Cox has said previously he expects a lawsuit challenging the legislation to be filed.

What we're watching: Ari Cohn, a free speech lawyer for TechFreedom said last week that the then-bills "violate the First Amendment and threaten to fragment the Internet."

  • He argued that the governor shouldn't sign bills that force social media users to provide ID showing their age and, for minors, parental consent.
  • A lawsuit over the rules could be costly to Utah taxpayers.

Zoom out: Other states including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana have similar bills impending, AP reports.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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