Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Monday lashed out against social media platforms, calling them an “obvious reason for the decline in youth mental health” and asking the Legislature to “protect” children from them.

Depending on how legislators respond to the governor’s call to action, Idaho may become the next state to restrict young people’s social media use.

Coming less than two months after the Treasure Valley experienced a teen suicide cluster, Little during his State of the State address Monday spoke about the need to address youth suicide in Idaho and said social media companies play a significant role in making young people today feel more isolated than any previous generation.

“The dominance of social media in the past decade is an obvious reason for the decline in youth mental health,” Little said. “Social media is addicting. It creates a forum for cyberbullying. It replaces quality time with kids’ friends and loved ones, and it makes them compare themselves to impossible, artificial standards for looks and lifestyles.”

Speaking in the Idaho House chambers, the governor urged legislators to create new social media laws to address this issue.

“I am asking my partners in the Legislature to pass meaningful reforms this session — like the legislative bodies in Arkansas, Utah, and other states have done — to better protect our children from the harms of social media,” Little said.

Gov. Brad Little provides his vision for the 2024 Idaho Legislative session during his State of the State address.

Idaho could follow in other states’ footsteps

While Little was not explicit about what that reform could look like, the two states he mentioned may give Idahoans a clue.

Last year, Utah and Arkansas became the first states to pass sweeping social media laws that banned those younger than 18 from accessing platforms like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram without explicit parental permission. Social media companies will have to verify ages and obtain a guardian’s consent through federally recognized methods before allowing minors on their sites.

Utah’s laws also grant parents complete access to their children’s accounts, require platforms to block minors between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. unless adjusted by a parent and limit who can search for and message minors.

The Utah laws, which go into effect March 1, put restrictions on tech companies as well. They will no longer be able to collect a minor’s data, target a minor’s social media accounts for advertising purposes or target a minor’s social media accounts with addictive designs or features.

Utah legislators also created avenues for minors to bring lawsuits against social media companies for harming them.

The State of the State was not the first time Little has shown his distaste for social media. He signed an executive order in December 2022 that banned TikTok on state-issued devices and networks — a move he brought up again on Monday.

“We’re pushing back on China,” Little said. “I banned TikTok in state government to protect our information from the Chinese government’s sinister motives.”

Little’s statements come on the heels of national concern about how social media use could be affecting young people. In recent years, CEOs from tech giants like Meta, Twitter and TikTok were called into Congress to testify about such issues.

Little’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday.