MENTAL HEALTH

Dems and Republicans uniting to protect kids from social media, Utah congressman says

Mar 14, 2023, 6:00 PM | Updated: Mar 15, 2023, 8:44 am

Kaleigh Rogers, FiveThirtyEight's technology and politics reporter,  joined a recent episode of In...

Kaleigh Rogers, FiveThirtyEight's technology and politics reporter,  joined a recent episode of Inside Sources, with host Boyd Matheson, to explain how campaigns are trying to use micro-internet trends.(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY —  A Utah congressman has been leading a national effort to protect kids online from the dangers of social media. His bill is uniting both Democrats and Republicans.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, joins Inside Sources host Boyd Matheson to discuss his bill, what it does and how it’s enforced.

“As we look at all that our young people face today, the digital world continues to be a really ominous, negative impact on our young people. What should the conversation be as it relates to social media?” Boyd asked.

“The evidence of this, studies on this is just irrefutable: Social media has an enormous negative impact on our young people,” Stewart said. 

In 2010, about 63% of American high-school students reported using a “social networking site” on a daily basis. But by 2014, 80% of high-school students said they used a social media platform daily, and 24% said they were online “almost constantly.”

By Chris Stewart and Spencer Cox

Social media’s impact on kids

Stewart added broad, national studies have shown, “something like 40% to 41% of our young people, aged 14 to 24, have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and a frightening number of them, in the high 20s to nearly a third of young people, have said they have contemplated suicide and discussed how they would commit suicide with a friend,” Stewart said.

“The average 13 to 18-year-old, but again, including 13-year-olds [spends] nine hours a day on social media,” he said. “The average 8- to 10-year-old [spends] five and a half hours a day on social media.”

How using social media affects teenagers: Experts say kids are growing up with more anxiety and less self-esteem.

How it began

Stewart said social media’s influence on young people started in 2012 when Facebook bought Instagram.

“They intentionally began to market to 9, 10, 11, 12, 13-year-old girls, and then to the same age group of boys. And as that social engagement increased, so did the anxiety, so did the depression, so did the suicide. We have to do something,” Stewart said.

Dems and Republicans are — what? — uniting behind this effort

Stewart said his bill is seeing bipartisan support in Congress. Even the president has written about the need to protect children from social media’s negative influences.

By Joe Biden Republicans and Democrats, Unite Against Big Tech Abuses 

 “I didn’t know when we first introduced this [and] began talking about it three months ago if we’d be able to get it passed,” Stewart said, “but we’ve got such broad support, including from our Democratic colleagues, I think we’re actually going to be able to get it done.” 

“Give us a sense of what is in there [Stewart’s bill] and how can that be helpful to our young people?” Boyd asked.

“So the bill is actually fairly straightforward. It just says if you’re younger than 16, you can’t have a social media account,” Stewart said.

He said requiring identification for creating a social media accounts is the enforcement mechanism, but it also gives families, parents and U.S, states legal standing to sue social media companies if they do not comply with the bill’s requirement for legal ID to create a social-media account.

Suicide prevention help 

Boyd also pointed out that Stewart’s multiyear effort brought the universal telephone number (988) for suicide prevention into existence. The number went live on all telephone devices beginning July 16, 2022.

Rep Stewart’s suicide prevention hotline, 988, goes live this week

If you or somebody you know is contemplating suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.

Related video:

US Surgeon General says 13 is too young to join social media

Related reading:

Opinion: We protect children in the physical world — why not the digital world?

Sen. Hawley proposes social media ban for kids, mirroring Utah Rep. Stewart’s House legislation

————

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Mental Health

Katy Welkie, vice president of Intermountain and CEO of Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital, ...

Eric Cabrera, Amie Schaeffer

Intermountain Health to open behavioral health center in Taylorsville

Intermountain Health is expanding its behavioral health services. A new center for children and teens will open in Taylorsville in 2025.

4 days ago

(Canva)...

Heather Peterson

Program connects those who struggle with mental health to employers

SALT LAKE CITY — A sector of Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services is connecting those who struggle with mental illnesses with employers, to aid in their recovery. With Individual Placement and Support (IPS) offices across the state, they help those who have suffered from mental health crises or a co-occurring substance use disorder, […]

9 days ago

Getting along with the in-laws can be a tricky - but essential - part of the marriage journey. Utah...

Emma Everett Johnson, KSL.com

Struggling with in-laws? USU experts have some advice

Struggling with in-laws? You're not alone. The University of Utah has conducted a research study to help people out who have in-law troubles.

18 days ago

(Canva)...

Michelle Lee

The impact of spring colors on mental health

Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Sally Augustin to learn how we can use spring colors to improve our mental health.

26 days ago

Therapist talks about mental health for athletes in the olympics...

Allessandra Harris

Sports psychologist explains an Olympic athlete’s feelings of grief

It is common for Olympic athletes to experience feelings of grief when competing or after the events have ended.

29 days ago

Salt Lake Deputy Police Chief Josh Scharman conducts the grand opening of the Community Connections...

Eric Cabrera

Social workers with Salt Lake Police Department are responding to more callers than ever

The Community Connection Center social workers who work with the Salt Lake Police Department are getting an increase in mental health-related calls, as a result they have grown their team to able to respond to more.

30 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.

...

Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Dems and Republicans uniting to protect kids from social media, Utah congressman says