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A tick box to say you’re the right age simply isn’t enough. Social media companies are under scrutiny for data handling and need to enforce age restrictions much more rigidly as part of this."
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.comGiven that more than half of 12-year-olds already have a social media account, Burrows said there’s an urgent need to make these sites as safe as possible, which ultimately means it’s not only down to the social media platforms themselves: “That’s why we want the government to enforce a mandatory social network code, backed by a regulator, with a set of child safety measures that all social networks must have in place,” he said. In response to these comments a Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) spokesperson said: “Social media companies have a duty to make their platforms safer, including taking a stronger role in closing down underage accounts. Through our Internet Safety Strategy, we are working closely with the industry to encourage solutions that will increase online safety in the UK, but haven’t ruled out further regulation if significant progress is not made.”It is clear that no one believes parents should be doing this alone, however, they do have a part to play in ensuring their kids aren’t signing up to these networks underage. “Parents can help keep their children safe online by ensuring they are familiar with the age restrictions on the apps their children want to use and by also having open, honest and regular conversations about the online world and allowing them to think critically about why those age-restrictions may apply,” said Bunting. Burrows said he also believes parents should be “making these conversations part of everyday life” in the same way you would ask about your child’s day at school, adding that the NSPCC and 02’s Net Aware tool can give parents practical tips on the different apps and sites that children use.Freegard said mums and dads should educate their child on sensible use, the dangers of social media and giving information away to strangers. “Sure it’s tough to police and your kids may not thank you for it - but it’s better than your child being harmed by inappropriate use,” she said.She also argued that education should continue at school: “Most schools are already doing an excellent job with safer internet use policies and restricting the use of phones on school property. Finally, we also need a shift in our thinking in wider society. Lets see social media as a helpful tool for our lives, but get back to real-life interactions being equally as valuable. Social media should lead to social meet-ups and then we’d feel happier all-round.”How do you talk to your kids about social media use? Let us know by emailing [email protected] ALSO:
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