SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah Governor Spencer Cox launched a public awareness campaign on Thursday, intended to warn parents of the harmful dangers of social media.
Beginning on Thursday, videos and advertisements online, on TV and through billboards will direct parents to a new website that includes statistics and what parents can do to protect their children. The website is available in both English and Spanish.
The campaign is the latest move in Utah’s war on social media. Earlier this year, Gov. Cox and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced their intent to file a lawsuit against social media companies. Cox said the planned lawsuit is intended only to protect children online and is not aimed at affecting how adults browse social media.
The State of Utah applied pressure against social media giant TikTok, submitting a motion in court to hold the company in contempt for allegedly failing to answer two subpoenas. The subpoenas were issued as part of the state’s ongoing investigation into TikTok, asking for information on the platform’s Utah demographic, such as how many users were in the state and the general age range.
The Governor’s Office said social media has become an increasing presence in young people’s lives. A recent survey by the state of Utah showed parents report that their children use social media 57% use it every day in a week, and 53% use it anywhere from one to three hours a day.
Officials say the rise in social media access and use is “strongly correlated” with the rise in mental health issues among young adults.
“Rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicidal thoughts and behaviors have increased in recent years,” said Gov. Cox. “It’s undeniable that social media is harming our children’s mental and physical health, brain chemistry, self-esteem and more. Parents need to know about these dangers so they can best help their children and teens.”
Gov. Cox said there is a concern among Utah parents about their children’s mental health, body image, brain development, and sleep patterns. The public awareness campaign launched on Thursday in collaboration with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Commerce aims to educate parents about their concerns and how they can take action.