By Cole Sinanian •
Published: 03 Dec 2023 • 16:12
Mobile phone being used in a classroom.
Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock.com
One of Europe’s first “state parental controls” went into effect in Italy recently, in a new regulation that directs service providers to block children’s access to inappropriate content.
Under the law, Italians younger than 18 can no longer access content related to pornography, gambling, the sale of weapons, hate groups, drugs, the instigation of violence, suicide, or religious cults. Children’s mobile phones must be registered in their names instead of their parents’, as providers will block access using SIM card data.
The block is activated once users attempt to access a web page declared as sensitive. “In most cases, the blocking is not activated by a single content, but on the level of the domain or web subdomain,” said the Italian communication authority AGCOM in a statement.
However, critics have noted that such regulations won’t prevent children from being exposed to harmful content through social media pages, which children and adolescents frequent more than adults.
Additionally, there have been concerns regarding how service pricing will affect the law’s efficacy. As coverage for minors typically costs more, parents may be encouraged to buy phones for their children under their own names, thereby preventing state parental controls from having widespread effects.
The law comes as Spanish parents are building a movement to ban mobile phones from children under the age of 16. In what began in Barcelona in early November, parents throughout Spain are banding together to question the apparent social consensus that children should have a mobile phone by the time they enter high school.
Billed as an “anti-cell phone” movement, it has gained a wave of support that has spread to all corners of the country. In a report, UNESCO has warned against the dangers of unregulated cell-phone and internet use to children, particularly with regards to learning. According to statistics from Spain’s national statistics institute, some 97.5 per cent of children between the ages of 10 and 15 are internet users.
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Now, for the rest of the world to fall inline…
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