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ALL Media Must Protect Children

Mal Fletcher
Posted 18 March 2018
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It's high time the big social media cos. ponied up to cover treatment for addicted children.

And not "treatment" offered via yet more online technology. Recently, Facebook suggested that the way to deal with feelings of anxiety and isolation - which are often increased by even moderate social media use - is to spend more time on Facebook.

British research indicates that 60 percent of children surveyed say they've been bullied online. 

Meanwhile, 20 percent of children aged 12 to 15 have witnessed something on social media which they've found "worrying or nasty".

Sixty-four percent of 13-17 year-olds say they've seen offensive videos or messages on social media.

In response to this, the British government is considering limiting the time children can spend on social media.

One wonders how this might be enforced, but let's wait for the final proposals and hope for the best.

New legislation may also force companies like Facebook to institute age verification on their sites.

These measures may go at least take use some of the way toward solving the problem of childhood addiction to the internet.

While they're at it, however, law-makers might also consider calling on TV companies to provide support for children who are negatively affected by violence or overt sexual behavior on the box. 

Children arguably spend more time - across certain age groups - on social media than TV these days, but the television doesn't exactly stand idle in most homes! 

Moreover, a good deal of TV content is also available for streaming via on-demand services such as the BBC's iPlayer. 

Yes, the latter does feature a child protection lock for use by parents, but it would be instructive to know what percentage of people are aware of it or bother to set it up. 

And there's no parental lock on TVs, which can be viewed by children passively - that is, in the background - or while they're alone. 

In Britain, the broadcasting watershed was set up in 1964 to provide protection for children when it comes to their exposure to TV and radio.

It requires that adult-oriented fare is only accessible after 9 pm, supposedly long after children have gone to bed.

However, one wonders what proportion of children today have no access to TV after 9 pm and pre-watershed programming is arguably less child-friendly than it was fifty years ago.

What's more, no watershed is possible where social media or video-on-demand platforms are concerned.

Media companies, whether they represent "old" or "new" media, must take at least some practical responsibility for the effects of their programming on the most vulnerable members of our society, the children. 

First published at Copyright Mal Fletcher, 2018.

What’s your view?

Do TV and social media cos. need to do more to protect children?



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