Feb 2, 2024 - News

Colorado moves to make social media safer for kids

An illustration of young people checking their phone and their "likes" on social media

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Colorado wants to curb the danger that doomscrolling on social media poses for young people.

Why it matters: Mental health challenges have taken a toll on teens, and a growing number of experts are sounding the alarm about how heavy social media use is making those struggles worse.

State of play: State lawmakers are pushing a new bipartisan bill that would require Colorado's education department to create a resource bank for elementary and high schools with research about the downsides excessive online screen time has on kids.

  • The measure would also mandate social media companies show people under 18 periodic pop-up warnings after they spend an hour on their platforms, and send more frequent alerts between 10pm and 6am to help kids get better sleep.

Driving the news: Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has also introduced "first-of-its-kind" legislation to create an independent agency to regulate digital platforms and hold Big Tech's feet to the fire.

  • Meanwhile, Attorney General Phil Weiser joined dozens of other state attorneys general in suing Meta for releasing products and features that harm teens' mental health — a move that led Meta last month to announce new protections.

The latest: This week, Coloradan Lori Schott attended a federal hearing — in which senators grilled tech CEOs on child social media exploitation — to speak about her 18-year-old daughter's suicide in 2020, which she said was fueled by social media, CPR reports.

What they're saying: "We need to let the message be told that social media is a dangerous place. We need to get legislation in place that holds them accountable or we're just going to continue to lose children," Schott said.

Zoom out: Several states that have tried to reign in social media, such as Utah and Ohio, have faced legal challenges. But that hasn't stopped others from proposing their own restrictions, including Florida and California.

  • Cities are joining the fight, too. In late January, New York City declared itself the first to issue an advisory designating social media as an environmental toxin.
  • Last year, Seattle Public Schools sued several social media giants, including TikTok and Meta, for spurring a youth mental health crisis.

Threat level: A recent Pew Research Center report found nearly 1 in 5 teens use YouTube or TikTok "almost constantly," reflecting a rising generation whose lives are dominated by social media platforms, Axios' Jennifer A. Kingston writes.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more