How to protect children from social media?

Monitoring children Credit: Julia M Cameron, Pexels

Children below 13 continue using social media despite age limits and exposure to explicit content.

Dutch experts continue looking for ways to monitor children’s access to the internet. According to European privacy law, children under 16 can only create an online account with the permission of a parent or guardian.

Under the same law, online platforms are required to check whether real consent has been given. Yet, children continue to find ways of gaining online access by concealing or lying about their date of birth. 

Robbert Hoving from the Dutch expertise centre, Offlimits, expressed the difficulty in concealing explicit content online; “A child cannot simply walk into a sex shop in the real world. On a porn site, a child can gain access with a mouse click.” 

Justine Pardoen of the Youth and Media Bureau also emphasised; “Companies need to create apps that are safe for teenagers between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. They need extra protection.”

A recent study by market analyst Newcom, showed that 6,3 million Dutch people think social media harms their mental wellbeing. Many of these are teenagers. For children, the threat is even greater.

The online platforms, Snapchat and TikTok are particularly popular among young people in the Netherlands and do not allow use for those under the age of 13. 

A spokesperson from TikTok revealed that there are consistent checks for accounts of people suspected of being under 13 and all these accounts are removed once found.

Snapchat spokespeople also expressed that they´re in favour of age verification per device rather than per app; “That way, data is better protected and it remains workable for parents.” 

However, the perfect method to monitor children has not yet been found and educators argue it relies greatly on parents´ control of children. 

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Written by

Anna Akopyan

Originally from Moscow, with Russian and Armenian origins, Anna has lived in Costa Blanca for over ten years. She is passionate about singing, acting and traveling.


    • D Bath

      08 July 2024 • 11:51

      Make no mistake, most of these tech companies are only concerned about making money. They couldn’t care less about children being infected by their products.

      • D Bath

        08 July 2024 • 21:23

        To simply say, “We have checks and balances in place.” is not enough. Prove it.


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