Gov. Cox launches new public awareness campaigns about harms of social media

SALT LAKE CITY – In response to increasing concerns about the negative effects social media has on youth, Governor Spencer Cox launched a new public awareness campaign today to urge parents about the dangers social media can have on their children.

The public awareness campaign, titled Harms of Social Media, is in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Families, Utah Department of Health, and Human Services and Utah Department of Commerce, who are all intently focused on educating parents on the potential harmful effects of social media.

“Rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, suicidal thoughts and behaviors have increased in recent years,” Cox said. “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. We encourage all Utahns to consider less screen time and more human connection. Let’s disconnect to reconnect.”

According to a recent study by the Utah-based firm Lighthouse Research, Utah parents report 76% of their children use social media in some capacity, 57% use it 7 days a week, and 53% use it 1-3 hours a day.

Mental health issues among youth have increased over the past two decades, which is known to be strongly correlated with social media access and use.

According to the same research, 88% of of Utah parents say social media has a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of children. The top concerns of parents are about their children’s mental health, body image, sleep patterns, and brain development.

63% of Utah parents reported feeling very concerned about social media impacting their child’s mental health, especially in regard to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, depression and suicide ideation. This public awareness campaign aims to educate parents about these concerns and ways they can take action.

The Governor’s new campaign also released some tips for parents who are concerned:

  • Create a family media plan with expectations of how and when to use technology and social media.

  • Learn about social media platforms and how they work.

  • Have open and honest discussions with your child about the harms of social media and spending time online.

  • Model responsible online behavior for your child.

  • Reconsider allowing your child to have social media.

  • Make time to connect with your child device-free.

  • Create tech-free zones and find opportunities to connect in person with your child.

Starting today, videos and other materials will launch across television, billboards and online, inviting parents and caregivers to learn more about the harms of social media at socialharms.utah.gov (English) or redessociales.utah.gov (Spanish).

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