Utah lawmaker talks about his work to shield kids from social media

Jun 21, 2024, 6:05 PM

someone taps on facebook icon, utah lawmakers working to protect kids from social media...

FILE.- In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, photo an iPhone displays the apps for Facebook and Messenger in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

(AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah legislator discusses legislation he helped craft to rein in harmful features influencing kids plugged into social media.

Earlier this week, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called on Congress to protect kids by placing a warning label on social media platforms as commonly seen on tobacco and alcohol items.

On Thursday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill shifting back to parents some online authority to control children’s social media accounts:

Utah lawmakers take on social media heavyweights

Dave & Dujanovic spoke with State Sen. Mike McKell, R- Spanish Fork, about legislation aiming to regulate social media in Utah.


Reining in social media in Utah

McKell and his partner in the House, Rep. Jordan Teuscher, R-South Jordan, sponsored HB464, which creates a civil right to action for kids under 18 years who allege harm from social media. 

They also sponsored SB194, which requires social media companies to verify the age of all account holders.

McKell said the bills go into effect beginning in October.

According to McKell, they wanted social media companies to disable the data-collection feature on kids’ accounts.

“We want parental consent for data collection… In a perfect world, we don’t want any data collection of our kids at all. But what we said in the legislation in Utah is if you’re going to collect data on children in the state of Utah that Mom and Dad have to give that parental consent. I don’t think parents will give parental consent,” McKell said, referencing the article below:

Instagram regularly recommends sexual videos to accounts for teenagers who appear interested in racy content and do so within minutes of when they first log in, according to tests by The Wall Street Journal and an academic researcher.”

Unmasking the dangers of social media

“I don’t know why any parent would want their child on [social media]. And unfortunately, I think parents are missing it. I don’t think they realize how serious it actually is online,” McKell said.

To that end, he added that state government leaders have assembled a website for parents meant to “unmask the dangers of social media.”

The site provides parents with information and resources.

McKell also wants to disable addictive features on social media platforms, such as the endless scroll and push notifications.

“We don’t want kids listed in the index so people can find them,” said McKell.

Related: LISTEN: Utah social media law more complicated than it seems

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Utah lawmaker talks about his work to shield kids from social media