New restrictions on social media for youth could result in broader access restrictions

Could this be a sign that social media regulation is yet to come?

The state of Utah will pass a new law that will ban anyone under the age of 18 from using social media apps without parental consent.

After Axios:

“Effective March 1, 2024, all Utahns would be required to verify their age to use social media platforms or lose access to accounts, under the bill sponsored by State Rep. Michael McKell.”

The new law, if enacted, will add an extra level of protection for youngsters, as parents will lose access to their own social media accounts if they don’t verify their children’s ages and monitor their activities.

Of course, there are various caveats in the legislation, but the main focus is to ensure that young people have at least some level of supervision when using social media apps.

Which has become a much bigger focus lately amid reports of harmful challenges on TikTok, the psychological effects of Instagram on young girls, misinformation on Facebook, etc.

Experts have also consistently warned that social media use can have significant negative consequences for young people, leading all major platforms to adopt further safeguards to limit exposure and access in different ways.

Most recently, TikTok added a new process that limits teens to one hour a day on the app. This system can be circumvented by users, and as many people have noted, it will also lead to more teens lying about their age – although Meta also recently reported that its new age verification measures have been very effective in detecting users trying to misreport her age Age.

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Combined, these types of options could open up new avenues to ensure youth protection and safety when using social apps, which could also provide more reassurance to regulators and legislators who may be considering bans and restrictions.

At the same time, however, the new law change in Utah could be the start of a broader shift that could result in further blocking of youth from using social apps and could have a major impact on marketers who engage with younger audiences via digital platforms would like.

Which makes sense. Again, many teens have died participating in harmful TikTok challenges, while the psychological harm associated with social apps is well documented at this point. Do these impacts outweigh the unifying benefits? There is definitely something to be said for the interactive benefits that social apps offer as well, but perhaps further limitations create a more positive situation for such advances.

In this regard, it is interesting to note how China has approached gambling, which the CCP sees as a similarly harmful activity that has harmed Chinese youth.

In 2021, the Chinese government introduced rules restricting minors to one hour per day in online gaming and only on Fridays, weekends and public holidays. The restrictions had a major impact on gambling addiction, which the CCP believes will help youth focus on education and schooling while keeping them away from more harmful elements of gaming apps.

That seems extreme, but perhaps Western lawmakers will start looking at the data on Chinese gaming restrictions and consider what potential positive benefits similar restrictions on social media use could bring.

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More personal interactions? More direct social comparison? More physical activity?

It seems that some benefits could be considered — and perhaps this new push in Utah is just a first step.