Utah social media law means kids need approval from parents

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. on behalf of / ɒn bɪˈhæf əv / (idiom) – as a representative of someone

    The secretary spoke on behalf of the president.

  2. collectively / kəˈlɛk tɪv li / (adv.) – as a group or as a whole

    Collectively, the employees’ opinion on the policy change was positive.

  3. unbridled / ʌnˈbraɪd ld / (adj.) – not controlled

    Some parents are worried about children’s unbridled use of the internet.

  4. stall / stɔl / (v.) – to stop developing or progressing

    The bill has stalled in congress.

  5. step in / stɛp ɪn / (phrasal v.) – to be involved in a difficult situation in order to help

    The government stepped in to help those affected by the mass layoff.


Read the text below.

Children and teens in Utah would lose access to social media apps such as TikTok if they don’t have parental consent and face other restrictions under a first-in-the-nation law designed to shield young people from the addictive platforms.

Two laws signed by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox prohibit kids under 18 from using social media between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., require age verification for anyone who wants to use social media in the state and open the door to lawsuits on behalf of children claiming social media harmed them. Collectively, they seek to prevent children from being lured to apps by addictive features and from having ads promoted to them.

Tech giants like Facebook and Google have enjoyed unbridled growth for over a decade, but amid concerns over user privacy, hate speech, misinformation and harmful effects on teens’ mental health, lawmakers have made Big Tech attacks a rallying cry on the campaign trail and begun trying to rein them in once in office. Utah’s law was signed on the same day TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress about, among other things, the platform’s effects on teenagers’ mental health.

But legislation has stalled on the federal level, pushing states to step in.

Outside of Utah, lawmakers in red states including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana, and blue states including New Jersey are advancing similar proposals.

The new Utah laws also require that parents be given access to their child’s accounts. They outline rules for people who want to sue over harms they claim the apps cause. If implemented, lawsuits against social media companies involving kids under 16 will shift the burden of proof and require social media companies to show their products weren’t harmful — not the other way around.

Social media companies might have to design new features to comply with parts of the laws that prohibit promoting ads to minors and showing them in search results. Tech companies like TikTok, Snapchat and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, make most of their money by targeting advertising to their users.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Do you think the time off social media from 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. will significantly help prevent its harmful effects on children and teens’ mental health? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • In your opinion, should parental consent be legally required on all social media sites? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Why do you think social media companies did not change the way they operated despite reports on their harmful effects on kids and teens’ mental health? Discuss.
  • Lawmakers have made Big Tech attacks a rallying cry and begun trying to rein them in. Do you agree with the actions of the lawmakers? Why or why not? Do you think the same should be done in your country? Discuss.