February 21, 2024

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Utah Passes Landmark Social Media Protections for Minors

Utah became the first state in the union to require parental permission for minors to use social media. Governor Spencer Cox signed the Social Media Privacy Protection for Minors Act  into law on March 23. The new law, which goes into effect in March 2024, requires social media companies to verify the age of users before allowing them to create an account and to obtain parental consent for users under 18. Additionally, it prohibits social media companies from collecting or using any personal information from users under 18 without their parent’s consent.

“This is a common-sense law that will help protect our children from the dangers of social media,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “We need to do everything we can to keep our kids safe, and this law is a step in the right direction.”

Utah legislators passed the bill in response to concerns about the negative effects of social media on young people, including cyberbullying, body image issues, exposure to online predators and mental health problems. Lawmakers say the legislation will give parents more control over their children’s online activity and help to protect them from the dangers of social media.

“This law is about giving parents the tools they need to keep their kids safe,” said Rep. Karianne Lisonbee, who also sponsored the bill. “Social media can be a dangerous place for young people, and this law will help to make it safer.”

Not Everyone Agrees

Opponents of the law argue that it is an overreach of government regulation and that it will do little to protect young people from the dangers of social media. They say that social media companies already have strong safeguards in place to protect young people and that the law will only make it more difficult for them to connect with their friends and family.

“This law is an overreach of government regulation. It’s not the government’s job to tell parents how to raise their kids.” said Chris Peterson, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. “This law is based on a false premise, social media is not inherently dangerous for young people.”

Other States Poised to Do The Same

While its too early to know what the impact of Utah’s law will be, it’s likely that other states will follow suit and pass similar laws. In fact, a number of states, led by both Democrats and Republicans, are already considering similar legislation. Those states include: 

  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

These states are considering a variety of different approaches, but they all share a common goal of protecting young people from the potential harms of social media. If more states pass laws like Utah’s, it could have a major impact on the way that social media companies operate.

The passage of these laws could also have a significant impact on the way that young people use social media. Young people may be less likely to create accounts on social media platforms if they know that their parents will need to give permission. They may also be more careful about what they post on social media if they know that their parents will be able to see it.

By Jim Daws

By Jim Daws

Jim Daws is Managing Editor for Innovation & Tech Today.

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