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

New legislation in Utah, the first of its kind in the country, severely restricts the use of social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. While its proponents claim it’s 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, requires age verification and parental consent before children can register social media accounts, according to the New York Times. Also, users under the age of 18 are prohibited from using social media between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. unless a parent overrides the settings. Also, websites must give parents access to their children’s profiles, including private messages.

The law is scheduled to come into force on March 1, 2019. Republican Senator Michael McKell, the bill’s supporter, claims that sadness, anxiety and suicidal thoughts have “increased dramatically” among teenagers. In a statement to CNN, he added: “I believe this measure is the best way to prevent our youth from succumbing to the dire and occasionally life-threatening effects of social media. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Cox explained earlier this month that “this is something that’s killing our kids.” According to him, the “addictive properties” of social media are “specifically injected by these companies to get our youth hooked.” On Thursday, he signed a second law that would ban social media companies from using features or methods that can lead to addiction in young people.

Similar limits are being considered by legislators in a number of states, including Connecticut and Ohio. If enough states pass legislation, analysts say it could lead to federal regulation.

According to the Times, Dr. Sarah Coyne, professor of child development at Brigham Young University, said the law would cut a lifeline for vulnerable young people. “We recognize that marginalized youth, including LGBTQ students, use social media in really important ways to feel accepted and supported, especially when they lack family support,” she said. Therefore, when a 17-year-old who is genuinely concerned with mental health turns to social media to find a place where they belong and their parents tune them out or view their communications, it can have a really significant negative effect .



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