Culture Secretary proposes social media time limits for children

Posted On: 
10th March 2018

The government has proposed introducing time limits to tackle social media addiction amongst children

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has proposed introducing social media time limits for children
PA Images

Government could force social media giants to adopt new anti-extremism technology

Jeremy Hunt says social media companies should help spot children at risk of mental illness

Ministers urged to confront social media giants over child grooming

Matt Hancock, Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said that he wanted to introduce age based cut-off times for social media sites such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.


‘There is genuine concern about the amount of screen time young people are clocking up and the negative impact it could have on their lives’ he told The Times.


‘It is right that we think about what more we could do in this area.’


It is not clear how the policy would work in practice, and Mr Hancock has not specified how long the time limits would be or how they would be enforced.


Mr Hancock also called for age verification to be strengthened. Although many social media companies specify a minimum age of 13 for users, children can get around this by simply entering a false date of birth.


‘Social media companies are going to need to know how old children are when they are on the site’ Mr Hancock said.


‘For an adult I wouldn’t want to restrict the amount of time you are on a platform but for different ages it might be right to have different time cut-offs.’


Mr Hancock is not the first Minister to express concern at the negative influence of social media on children. In February, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat could pose as big a threat to children’s health as obesity.


‘I worry that we’re sleepwalking into a situation where a whole generation spend huge chunks of their childhood online rather than investing in face-to-face relationships that help them grow up in a fully rounded way’ he said.