In Utah, people under 18 need permission from a parent or guardian to use social media like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.
It is the first U.S. state to enshrine such a measure in law, aimed at protecting minors from “addictive” platforms that damage children’s mental health.
The two new bills, opposed by the tech industry, would allow parents or guardians to access their children’s posts.
Minors will be blocked from accessing their accounts between 10.30pm and 6.30am, unless the time limit can be lifted with parental permission.
The laws also aim to make it easier for people to sue social media companies if their children claim they have been harmed by the platform.
Overall, the legislation seeks to stop teens from being lured into apps by addictive features, and to stop advertising from being served to them.
tech companies like Tik Tok, live chat and own Facebook and instagramEarns most of its revenue by serving ads to users.
Social media giants prepare to fight legislation
The new restrictions won’t take effect until March 1, 2024, but the social media company is expected to sue before then.
“We no longer want social media companies to continue to harm the mental health of our young people,” the tweet said Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox signed both bills.
“Utah is leading the way in holding social media companies accountable – and we won’t be slowing down anytime soon.”
Mr Cox said research showed time spent on social media was contributing to “poor mental health” in children.
Tech industry lobbyists have denounced the laws as unconstitutional, saying they violate people’s First Amendment rights online.
“Utah will soon require online services that collect sensitive information about teens and families to verify not only age but parental relationship, such as government-issued IDs and birth certificates, putting their private data at risk,” Nicole Saad said Benbridge is deputy director of the technology lobby group NetChoice.
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Can other US states follow suit?
Jim Steyer, head of Common Sense Media, which works to improve the lives of children and families, welcomed efforts to rein in the addictive power of social media and create rules for litigation.
This “increases momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure children across the country are protected online,” he said.
But he said giving parents access to their children’s social media posts would “deprive children of the online privacy protections we promote”.
Age verification and parental consent may discourage kids who want to create accounts on certain platforms, but do little to stop companies from collecting their data once they’re online, Mr. Steyer said.
The impact of social media on children has been the subject of a growing national debate in the United States.
Utah law signed on same day TikTok CEO Shouzi Zhou testifies before Congress About the impact of the platform on the mental health of adolescents, etc.
TikTok has 150 million U.S. users but is under increasing pressure from U.S. officials.
The company has been dogged by claims that its Chinese ownership means user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, or could be used to promote rhetoric favorable to the country’s Communist Party leader.