Utah’s New Law Requires Parental Consent for Minors to Use Social Media

Two laws signed by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox on Thursday aim to curb unhealthy addictions to social media in children.

Under the new laws, children under 18 cannot use social media between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. Age verification and parental consent will also be required to use the platforms.

Social media companies must also grant parents access to their children’s accounts.

The laws also open social media platforms up to lawsuits filed on behalf of children under the age of 16 that have been harmed by their use. Instead of a plaintiff having to prove harm, the burden of proof will shift to companies being required to prove that they were not harmful.

Cox pointed to social media use being linked to “poor mental health outcomes” for children.

“We remain very optimistic that we will be able to pass not just here in the state of Utah but across the country legislation that significantly changes the relationship of our children with these very destructive social media apps,” Cox said.

According to a report from ABC News, “outside of Utah, lawmakers in red states including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana and blue states including New Jersey are advancing similar proposals. California, meanwhile, enacted a law last year requiring tech companies to put kids’ safety first by barring them from profiling children or using personal information in ways that could harm children physically or mentally.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an internet free speech organization, has claimed that the laws violate teenagers’ “right” to privacy from their parents.

Nicole Saad Bembridge, an associate director at NetChoice, a tech lobby group, also opposed the legislation. She told ABC News that “Utah will soon require online services to collect sensitive information about teens and families, not only to verify ages, but to verify parental relationships, like government-issued IDs and birth certificates, putting their private data at risk of breach.”

The laws will go into effect in March 2024.

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