Is Social Media regulation finally shifting? The state of Utah is set to pass a new law that will restrict people under the age of 18 from using Social Media apps, absent their parents’ consent. As Axios explains:

“Starting March 1st, 2024, all Utahns would have to confirm their ages to use social media platforms or lose account access, under the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Michael McKell.”

Hold It Right There

If enacted, this new law will add an extra level of protection for youngsters, with parents losing access to their own Social Media accounts if they fail to verify their children’s age and monitor their activity. Of course, there are various provisos within this legislation, but the core focus is on ensuring that there’s at least some level of oversight for youngsters when using Social Media apps.

Which, as of late, has become a much bigger focus amid reports of harmful challenges on TikTok, the psychological impact of Instagram on young girls, misinformation on Facebook, and a lot more. Various experts have also continually warned that Social Media use can have significant consequences for youngsters, which has led to almost all major platforms adding more protective measures to limit exposure and access.

Most recently, TikTok added a new process that limits teens to an hour a day in the app. This system can be circumvented by users, and, as many people have noted, it will also lead to more youngsters lying about their age, though Meta also recently reported that its new age verification measures have been highly effective in detecting users who attempt to misreport their age.

Combined, these types of options could provide new avenues to ensure protection and safety for youngsters when using social apps, which also gives regulators and legislators more assurance who may be considering bans and other prohibitive measures. At the same time, Utah’s new law could mark the start of a broader shift that may see youngsters further restricted from using social apps, which could also have a big impact on marketers looking to connect with younger users via digital platforms.

It does make sense. Again, many youngsters have died taking part in harmful TikTok challenges, while there’s already a growing list of reports that document the psychological harms associated with social apps. Do these impacts outweigh the connective benefits? There’s definitely something to be said about the interactive advantages that social apps also provide, but perhaps further restrictions will provide a more positive situation for such moving forward.

The Wrap

Interesting to note is how China has taken somewhat a similar approach to try and control gaming, which the Chinese government sees as a harmful activity that has been causing damage to Chinese youth. Then again, everything in mainland China is the same as issues in Western regions, cranked to 11. So while Western regulators won’t likely take it to such extremes, maybe they’ll start looking at Chinese data on gaming restrictions to consider the positive outcomes of enacting similar restrictions. This new Utah push is a step in that direction.