New legislation in Utah to restrict how people younger than 18 use social media sites won't be "foolproof," as "kids are really smart," Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said Sunday.
"We are working with social media companies, again, over the course of the year," the Utah Republican said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We will be going through a rulemaking process to figure out what that’s going to look like."
The new law will require minors to get a parent's consent to sign up for social media accounts, set a digital curfew, and demand that social media companies verify the ages of their Utah customers.
Cox said lawmakers know there will be "enforcement issues" surrounding the controversial law.
"It's going to be tough," he said. "We don't expect that we're going to be able to prevent every young person from getting around this. Kids are really smart. That's one of the problems."
The new laws, which will take effect next year, set a digital curfew on social media users younger than 18, require minors to get parental consent to sign up for accounts, and demand social media companies verify the ages of users in Utah.
The governor predicted that other states will follow Utah's lead, and that will help Congress "coalesce and come to an agreement on how we prevent these terrible harms from happening," Cox said, adding that although there are already legal challenges on the legislation, "we feel confident that we’re going to prevail."
Cox said he would prefer that the U.S. Congress act on limits for social media with minors, and he thinks that will still happen, as even President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address that action is needed.
"I have very conservative members of Congress working on this together, but the states have to lead out and that's what we're doing," said Cox.
The measure is also about empowering parents and families and "holding these social media companies accountable for what we know now," he said.
"We've been working with Professor Jonathan Haidt at NYU who's been looking at this for many years, collecting research from around the world, and we know this is killing our kids," he added. "This started well-before COVID, since 2012, especially among young women, the rates of suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm have skyrocketed, and every research institution that has looked at this is pointing to social media as the cause."
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