SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Utah Gov. Spencer Cox signed two social media bills today, Mar. 23, that will place heavier restrictions on social media usage for minors.

The Utah Legislature passed two bills in the 2023 Legislative session addressing social media use for minors. The bills, S.B. 152 and H.B. 311, add include age verification, required parental permission, and limitations to direct messaging minors. They also provide the means to sue social media companies for any harm that occurred to a minor from social media and seek to prohibit addictive algorithms.

Supporters from the Utah State Senate cite increased mental health rates in teens and social media’s linkage to poor mental health as the reason for the bills.

“As a lawmaker and parent, I believe we are helping prevent our children from succumbing to social media’s negative and sometimes life-threatening effects,” Bill Sponsor Sen. McKell said.

However, criticism surrounding these bills has focused on the difficulty of enforcing them. Cox has responded to rebuttals saying they have some years before they go into effect to work with social media companies and third-party age verification systems to enforce the laws while maintaining privacy.

These bills come at a time when social media, and TikTok in particular, is under scrutiny in Congress. Earlier today, U.S. lawmakers from both parties “grilled” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew on security and privacy issues on the platform, according to the Associated Press.

While lawmakers are primarily focused on national security, rather than mental health, part of the questioning included concerns over harmful content, such as videos encouraging self-harm or shootings. However, AP News reported that Chew and his very few lawmaker supporters directed the conversation back to social media as a whole, questioning why lawmakers were focused on TikTok when other social media platforms have similar problems.

The conversation surrounding social media on the state and national levels is constantly developing. More information will be reported as it becomes available.