Governor of Utah has signed two bills that could upend the way teens in the state can use social media apps. Under the new laws, companies like Meta, Snap and TikTok would be required to get parental permission before teens can create accounts on their platforms. The laws also require a curfew, parental controls, and age verification features.
The laws could radically change the way social platforms manage the accounts of their youngest users. In addition to parental consent and age verification features, the laws also prohibit companies “from using any design or feature that makes a minor dependent on the company’s social media platform.”
At this time, it’s unclear how Utah officials intend to enforce the laws or how they will apply to teens’ existing social media accounts. Both laws are expected to come into force next March.
The effect that social media can have on teenagers, especially younger ones, has projector for some time. Earlier this year, the Surgeon General said that “13 is too early”, referring to the minimum age at which most platforms allow teenagers to register. Lawmakers in Congress and other states have also proposed laws that would limit teens’ ability to use social media apps.
However, not everyone agrees that laws banning teens from using social media are the right approach. THE Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that promotes digital rights, opposed the law, saying it would violate the First Amendment rights of young people. Other groups expressed the same concerns.