First-in-the-Nation Utah Law Gives Parents Access to Children’s Online Accounts, Teens

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  • Source: Wayne Dupree
  • 03/24/2023
The first of its kind in the country, a new Utah legislation severely limits how kids can use social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. While its proponents claim it is all about "protecting our children," opponents, including civil rights groups, hope other states won't follow suit.


The Utah Social Media Regulation Act, which Gov. Spencer Cox signed into law on Thursday, mandates age verification and parental consent before kids can register social media accounts, according to the New York Times. Also, unless a parent changes the settings, it prohibits users under the age of 18 from using social media networks between 10:30 pm and 6:30 am. Also, websites must grant parents access to their kids' profiles, including private messages.

The law is scheduled to go into force on March 1st, 2019. Republican state senator Michael McKell, the bill's proponent, claims that sadness, anxiety, and suicidal ideation among teenagers have "dramatically grown." In a statement to CNN, he added, "I believe this measure is the best way ahead to stop our youngsters from succumbing to the bad and occasionally life-threatening impacts of social media. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Cox stated earlier this month that "this is something that is killing our kids." According to him, social media's "addictive properties" are "specifically inserted by these firms to get our youngsters addicted." On Thursday, he signed a second bill that forbids social media businesses from employing features or methods that can lead to addiction among young people.

Similar limits are being considered by lawmakers in a number of states, including Connecticut and Ohio. According to analysts, if enough states pass legislation, it may result in a federal regulation.

According to the Times, Dr. Sarah Coyne, a professor of child development at Brigham Young University, said that the bill would sever a lifeline for young people who are vulnerable. We are aware that marginalized adolescents, including LGBTQ students, use social media in some really significant ways to feel accepted and supported, particularly when they lack familial support, she said. Thus, it may have a really substantial negative effect if a 17-year-old who is truly dealing with mental health turns to social media to find a place to belong and their parents are cutting it off or looking at their communications.

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