Gov. Cox outlines proposals to protect Utah children from harms of social media

Gov. Spencer Cox called on Utah parents, teachers and legislators to support policies to protect Utah children from the negative effects of social media.

“Like seat belt laws and tobacco regulations enacted years ago to protect our physical health, today I’m calling on Utahns to join me in supporting some common sense solutions to protect our mental health,” Gov. Cox said. “We need parents, educators, community leaders, and lawmakers to work with us to address these critical issues.” 

According to the Mayo Clinic, social media is negatively affecting teens – distracting them, disrupting their sleep, and exposing them to bullying, rumor spreading, unrealistic views of other people’s lives and peer pressure. A 2016 study of more than 450 teens found that greater social media use, nighttime social media use and emotional investment in social media — such as feeling upset when prevented from logging on — were each linked with worse sleep quality and higher levels of anxiety and depression. 

During his address to teachers and parents at Bonneville Jr. High School in Holladay, Gov. Cox outlined several proposals to improve youth mental health including removing cell phones from school classrooms and holding social media companies more accountable by requiring parental controls and permissions to create social media accounts. He also called on parents to model good social media behavior and to set reasonable limits.

Gov. Cox said he will be working with legislators, state and local school officials, the Utah PTA and other groups in developing policy recommendations. He also will convene a symposium of stakeholders in the coming months.

The governor’s announcement coincides with meetings being held by the National Governors Association in Salt Lake City Tuesday and Wednesday. The meetings will focus on youth mental health.