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UK Set to Announce Social Media Prohibition Plans for Under-16s Within Weeks

The government is also contemplating banning under-16s from purchasing smartphonesUK Set to Announce Social Media Prohibition plans for under-16s Within Weeks

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on April 15, 2024, 11:22:08

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government reportedly preparing announce plans prohibit children

The UK government is reportedly preparing to announce plans to prohibit children under the age of 16 from accessing social media platforms within a few weeks. Downing Street is expected to unveil proposals for stricter age limits on apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat as part of a consultation aimed at enhancing online safety for children, as per The Sunday Times.

The consultation will gather feedback from parents on the appropriate age for children to start using social media, with the suggested range being between 13 and 16 years old. Currently, several platforms allow membership for children as young as 13, including Meta, which recently lowered the minimum age for WhatsApp use in Europe to 13.

The decision was criticised by Smartphone Free Childhood as an instance of “a tech giant prioritising shareholder profits over children’s safety”. A Meta spokesperson stated, “We provide all users with options to control who can add them to groups, and when you receive a message from an unknown number for the first time, we offer the option to block and report the account.”

This development follows a call from Esther Ghey, mother of murdered 16-year-old transgender girl Brianna Ghey, for a social media ban for under-16s. In addition to potential social media restrictions, the government is contemplating banning under-16s from purchasing smartphones. Currently, individuals under 18 need parental consent to obtain phone contracts, but they can buy pay-as-you-go phones independently.

The proposed changes would limit this option for under-16s, although parents would still be able to buy phones for their children. A spokesperson for the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology stated: “We do not comment on speculation. Our commitment to making the UK the safest place for children online is firm, as demonstrated by our world-leading Online Safety Act.

(The writer is a legal associate at NYK Law Firm, one of the top legal consultants in Dubai)

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