Senate committee OK changes to Utah’s Social Media Regulations Act

Feb 16, 2024, 5:00 PM | Updated: 5:25 pm

social media...

FILE - This photo shows the mobile phone app logos for, from left, Facebook and Instagram in New York, Oct. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

(AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, is proposing changes to the Utah Social Media Regulation Act enacted last year. Several experts and others went before the Senate Business and Labor Committee to speak in favor of those changes.

The act would require social media companies to allow parents or guardians full access to their child’s online social media account, create an overnight curfew between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. and prohibit companies from collecting a child’s data.

The effective date for the Utah Social Media Regulation Act moved from March 1 to Oct. 1, 2024.

McKell’s bill, SB 194, requires social media companies to verify a new account holder’s age using an approved system. He said that provision is still being worked out.

“We’ll still have age assurance [but] that parental consent is a little different in the legislation this year. The parental consent is directly tied to privacy and data collection. So if a social media company is going to collect data on your child, a verified adult is going to have to give that consent,” he said.

McKell spoke with Dave and Dujanovic at the Capitol earlier in the week about his bill:


Social media: addiction and suicide

Britney Obray’s son died by suicide after viewing suggestive videos on social media. She said something changed in Dexton after using social media while he was in middle school.

“In another video, there’s an empty room, and there’s words on the screen, and it says ‘What are you doing for Halloween?’ Then it goes on to say nothing — just sitting here watching others hang out with their significant others while I drown myself with the overwhelming thought that I have no meaning.”

Lydia Johnson, 15, told the committee she became addicted to social media, even though her parents had placed restrictions on her phone.

“In my freshman year I started to post videos. I knew it was against the rules in our home, but I didn’t care. I got followers pretty quickly, and they’re always giving me praise, telling me how amazing I was, but it was all lies. These people didn’t know me, but the fake validation I kept getting made me crave more.”

“I never wanted to go anywhere, be around people. I shut everyone out of my life, and that led to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts,” Johnson said.

She told the committee she planned to end her life, but got scared and told her mom what was happening. Her parents took away Lydia’s phone and started getting her the help she needed.

Britney Obray’s husband found their son Dexton after he had taken his own life. Karl Obray says after the teen’s death, they started looking into his social media accounts. 

 “There were just such dark videos, such dark things that were pulling my Dexton into this web of addiction,” he told the committee.

The committee voted 4-to-0 to move the bill forward with a favorable recommendation. It next moves on to the full Senate for debate.

Addictive features would disappear

McKell added that his legislation would disable the addictive features of social media for a minor’s account.

“There’s going to be a lot of a lot of protections . . . [that] relate directly back to this addictive product: push notifications, endless scrolling, the amount of time on social media.  A lot of those addictive features, we’re just going to disable those on a minor account, and that’s the purpose, to stop this product from being so addictive.”

For McKell, the phrase “social media company” is not accurate.

“It’s a product, and we say social media, but these are data-mining companies. This is a product, and we regulate products that hurt kids and this is a very addictive product.”

Related: Utah lawmaker pushing legislation to address child care shortage

We want to hear from you.

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

Politics + Government

Former U.S. President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a break on the first day of his t...


LIVE: First day of Trump hush-money trial ends with no jurors picked

The first criminal trial of any former U.S. president began as Donald Trump vies to reclaim the White House.

18 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on his way to Manhattan criminal court....

Jennifer Peltz and Michael R. Sisak

Potential jurors called into courtroom for start of Trump’s historic hush-money trial

Former President Donald Trump has arrived at a New York court for the start of jury selection in his hush money case.

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally....

Josh Boak and Jonathan J. Cooper

Trump goes after the judge and prosecutors in his hush money case in last rally before trial begins

Former President Donald Trump spoke about his hush money case at his most recent rally before the trial begins on Monday.

2 days ago

President Joe Biden boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Friday, April 12, 2024, ...


Biden will meet with his national security team as fears rise of an Iranian strike against Israel

Biden to meet with national security team and monitor the situation in the Middle East after Iran promises retaliation after a suspected Israeli strike that killed 12 people

3 days ago

gabby petito shown, her death inspired a law meant to prevent other domestic violence deaths...

Heather Peterson

“Gabby Petito Act” signed into law in Florida

The "Gabby Petito Act" is similar to a law adopted in Utah last year.

4 days ago

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson...

Daniel Woodruff

New Utah school safety law earns praise from victims’ families, but cost concerns persist

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson ceremonially signed HB84 into law during an event Wednesday at the University of Utah.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

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

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.

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Senate committee OK changes to Utah’s Social Media Regulations Act