Utah Becomes First State to Require Parental Consent for Minors to Use Social Media

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Utah Governor Spencer Cox on Thursday signed two bills into law settling limits on social media use for minors—including requiring parental consent, making it the first U.S. state to do so.

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

He said that one of the new laws, S.B. 152, also called the Utah Social Media Regulation Act, requires social media companies to verify that users in the state are at least 18 years old in order to open an account in platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. Minors will need permission to open an account.

The new legislation, introduced by state Republican Sen. Michael McKell, also requires that social media companies allow parents full access to their child’s accounts, according to the governor’s website.

Under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, companies are prohibited from collecting data on those under age 13 without parental consent, and as such, social platforms ban children under 13 from signing up.

Safety Measures

S.B. 152 also imposes a slew of restrictions intended to improve safety for minors. This includes creating a default curfew setting to block minors’ access to their accounts overnight, from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., which parents can adjust.

It also blocks direct messaging by anyone who the minor has not added as a friend or followed on the platforms. Minors are also barred from being included in search results on the platforms.

Social media companies are also blocked under the new law from collecting data from minors and targeting their accounts for advertising.

The other law, H.B. 311, prohibits the social media companies from implementing any designs or features that “causes addiction for a minor” to the company’s platform, Cox said. “This bill also makes it easier for people to sue social media companies for damages,” he added.

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

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