Utah Is the First U.S. State to Limit Teens Under 18 from Social Media Access
Friday, April 21, 2023
Utah Passes Social Media Restrictions For Minors

Gov. Spencer Cox signed two bills on March 23, 2023 (i.e. S.B. 152 and H.B. 311), prohibiting children under 18 from using social media between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. and requiring age verification for anyone who wants to use social media in the state. The bills were signed on the same day TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress about, among other things, the platform's effects on teenagers’ mental health.

The new regulations take effect in March 2024, and it is unclear how the state plans to enforce the new regulations. S.B. 152 requires that parental consent be given for minors to sign up for social media accounts and that platforms verify the age of users younger than 18. The law also gives parents access to their children’s posts and messages and outlines rules for H.B. 311, which holds platforms liable for civil fines of up to $250,000 if they use addictive features on minors. Utah officials cited the impact of social media on teens’ mental health as their impetus for the laws.

If the bills are implemented, lawsuits against social media companies involving kids under 16 will shift the burden of proof and require that social media companies show their products weren’t harmful. Cox expects social media companies will challenge the legislation in court.

The regulations come as parents and lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned about youth social media use and how social media platforms are affecting young people’s mental health.

"Youth rates of depression and other mental health issues are on the rise because of social media companies," Cox said in a tweet on March 23, 2023. "As leaders, and parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people."

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