Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Tech Should social media be banned for under 16s?

Should social media be banned for under 16s?

Gracie Moore, Online Arts and Lit Editor, looks at the possibility of banning social media for children in the wake of the death of Brianna Ghey.
2 mins read
Written by
Image via Solen Feyissa, Wikimedia Commons

There has been a recent call in Parliament to ban social media for those under the age of 16. Conservative MP Miriam Cates has called on Rishi Sunak to consider the ban including social media and smartphones. Cates claimed there has been a rise in “poor teen mental health” and “children addicted to pornography” since 2010. In response, Rishi Sunak stated that the Online Safety Act “protects children from harmful or inappropriate material.”

Arguably, with news stories like the tragic death of Brianna Ghey, who was a big TikTok personality, social media can go as far as cause violence among young people. Brianna was stabbed to death in a park in Warrington in February 2023 and her mother has also called on a ban for children’s access to social media after one of her daughter’s killers, Scarlett Jenkinson, watched torture videos on the Dark Web before commiting the murder. This directly opposes Sunak’s claim that the Online Safety Act is sufficient. With this in effect, the access to this kind of content would not have been possible. 

Social media can go as far as causing violence among young people

As much as murder in wake of free social media access appears uncommon, there are micro-dangers also associated with social media usage. The term that has gained traction over the last few years is that of a “keyboard warrior”, someone who may partake in cyberbullying or the promotion of harmful beliefs online while simultaneously hiding behind a fake profile or hidden credentials. This can be just as harmful as the grooming of young children is rife due to this. Another danger is that harmful content exists everywhere online, not just on the Dark Web, and it can be difficult for childen to know where to access support after seeing something that negatively affects them. 

A complete ban of social media for young people seems impossible at this point. In the era of “influencers”, where many of them are younger than the age of 16, it would be extremely difficult to remove their footprints from these sites and apps. Instead, a ban that may garner more effective results would be parental blocks and ID checks. However, both of these options require the complicity of parents who may not agree with the bans and an ID can be easily forged.

Above all, the concerns from MPs should be seriously brought into question and there should be a modification into how effective the Online Safety Act is for protecting children in order to stand a chance at preventing more social media fuelled violence taking place.

You may also like

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign Up for Our Newsletter