Utah signed legislation Thursday requiring parents or guardians to give consent for people younger than the age of 18 to use social media accounts. File Photo by Pixelkult/Pixabay
March 23 (UPI) — Gov. Spencer J. Cox, R-Utah, signed legislation Thursday that requires parents or guardians to give consent for people younger than 18 to use social media accounts.
The new laws already have passed the state’s House and Senate and allow parents full access to their child’s social-media accounts.
The onus is also now on social media companies to verify the adult age of any Utah resident attempting to open or maintain an account.
Parents are also allowed to block messaging between their kids and any other online users that haven’t been friended or verified, and create a default curfew setting, blocking access to accounts between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m.
Social media companies are also prohibited from collecting a child’s data and may not target underage users’ accounts for advertising.
The newly-passed bills give social media companies until March 1 next year to comply with the regulations.
Companies can be fined $250,000 for exposing children to addictive features and designs. They can also be fined $2,500 per child.
“For youth under 16, harm would be presumed under the law and the companies would have to prove otherwise,” the state said in a statement.
The laws come amid growing concerns about suicide cases among teens and young people.
A 2021 study found children between the ages 10 and 16 who were exposed to content related to cyberbullying could be twice as likely to consider suicide.
“We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth. Today we signed two key bills in our fight against social media companies into law,” Cox tweeted Thursday afternoon.
“Utah’s leading the way in holding social media companies accountable — and we’re not slowing down anytime soon,” he said.
Lawmakers are considering similar laws on a federal level, while four states other than Utah are also considering versions of the law.