The use of social media among children under 16 is becoming an issue of growing concern, prompting the Government to consider new laws to restrict access to these platforms. The central issue revolves around the negative effects that social media can have on young people, including addiction and exposure to dangerous content.
A country is ready to introduce something that could prove historic: will social media really be banned for children under 16?
Table of Contents
Social media prohibited for minors under 16 years of age
A legislative proposal under discussion by the English Government could soon prevent children under 16 from using social platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, in response to growing concerns about young people’s online safety.
These apprehensions include the manipulation of young people for profit, the spread of content that can encourage self-harm and depression, as well as the ever-present danger of online predators exploiting these virtual spaces.
The English Government, through its spokesperson, expressed its desire to “empower parents” in supervising their children’s use of social media, rather than imposing direct restrictions on the platforms themselves. The aim is to balance the protection of minors with freedom of expression and access to information.
While the intention is clear, the specific measures to be taken are still under debate and have not yet been formally approved. The final decision will have significant implications both for young people’s online freedom and for the responsibility of social platforms to ensure a safe environment for all their users.
Concern about online security
Since 2017, charities and campaigners such as the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) have stepped up their calls for tighter regulation of online safety, in response to the growing incidence of grooming crimes on the internet.
Notably, the NSPCC has recorded over 34,400 such cases in the last six years – an alarming figure that highlights the urgent need to strengthen child protection online.
The approach aims to create a safer and more inclusive online environment, which supports personal growth and prevents access to harmful or inappropriate content.
The problems created by social media
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has raised concerns about the encrypted messaging introduced by Facebook (Meta), warning that it could encourage grooming and inappropriate image sharing.
Chris Philp, the UK Security Minister, called Meta’s decision “irresponsible”, worried that it could hinder the arrest of online predators. British politician Damian Hinds also expressed similar concerns, stressing that privacy should not get in the way of the fight against child abuse.
Towards a safer future for young people
The ongoing debate in the UK reflects a global concern about the safety of children online. Furthermore, social media tends to create addiction, often bringing negative consequences. As the UK Government considers new measures, the role of parents and educators in monitoring and guiding young people’s use of social media remains vital.
The challenge is to find a balance between protecting minors and allowing them to safely explore the digital space. These decisions will have a significant impact on the digital future of young people and could set an important precedent for other countries around the world.