New law ban­ning un­der-13s from so­cial me­dia pro­posed by UK health sec­re­tary

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

Anew law ban­ning un­der­13s from so­cial me­dia has been pro­posed by health sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock. He said Face­book, What's App and other so­cial me­dia giants should be legally re­quired to stop un­der-aged chil­dren join­ing their sites.

He ac­cused the com­pa­nies of do­ing “ab­so­lutely noth­ing” to stop un­der-13s get­ting onto sites like Face­book or un­der­16s us­ing What's App. Asked if there should be a min­i­mum and en­forced le­gal age re­quire­ment in an in­ter­view in Par­lia­ment's House mag­a­zine, he said: “Yes, yes there should. Ab­so­lutely.”

Of­com es­ti­mates a quar­ter of eight to 11 year olds have so­cial me­dia ac­counts, of­ten gain­ing ac­cess by ly­ing about their age.

But Mr Han­cock said: "The terms and con­di­tions of the main so­cial me­dia sites are that you shouldn't use it un­der the age of 13, but the com­pa­nies do ab­so­lutely noth­ing to en­force against that. And they should, I think that should be a re­quire­ment.”

“You shouldn't be on What­sApp, ac­cord­ing to their own terms and con­di­tions, be­fore you're 16.

“And yet, the pres­sures that peo­ple feel un­der when they're on a What­sApp group to re­spond, to wake up in the mid­dle of the night to get back to mes­sages – this is teenagers or young kids who aren't even teenagers yet.

“So, if the com­pany say that you shouldn't be on it till 16, they should do some­thing about that and they should em­power par­ents to al­low it to hap­pen.”

He said a le­gal ban would be con­sid­ered as part of the chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer Dame Sally Davies's in­ves­ti­ga­tion into en­sur­ing “age-ap­pro­pri­ate” use of so­cial me­dia. She is also re­view­ing the im­pact of so­cial me­dia on chil­dren's men­tal health.

Mr Han­cock sug­gested the com­pa­nies may have con­trib­uted to a rise in self-harm which had been seen in teenage girls but not teenage boys. “That im­plies that some­thing hap­pened in the last decade to in­crease the pres­sure on teenage girls,” he said.

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