In recent months, Governor Spencer J. Cox of Utah has been in the news for the passage of two new state laws: one that puts strict limits on access to social media for teens, and another that would prohibit social media companies from using designs that are addictive to teens.
Governor Cox believes that social media and smartphones really are the culprit behind a teen mental health crisis that has manifested, for example, in a skyrocketing rate of depression among teen girls. That rate has doubled since 2010, when the smartphone began mass adoption. With this in mind, Governor Cox has made Utah the first state to act in such a direct way.
In this conversation, we asked Governor Cox about the rationale behind these laws, the pushback he expects, and what he thinks the long-term legislative vision should be when it comes to teens and social media. Governor Cox argues that In any other context, if we saw the statistics we’re seeing about social media, we would drop everything to fix it. Given these drastic and unprecedented changes in mental health, it seems this is a crucial issue for our young people and that all people of faith should be engaging with this issue that is so important for kids and for the connective tissue of society.
We also want to mention that Governor Cox will be appearing at our upcoming Restore Gathering in October. In that presentation, he’ll be talking about his new initiative as incoming chairman of the National Governors Association: to help Americans “disagree better.”
We hope that regardless of the side of the political aisle you find yourself on, you can help us engage with the important ideas and issues Governor Cox is bringing to the forefront. As he might say, though we certainly won’t all agree, we can all benefit from learning to do it better.