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Gulf Today Report
Tech companies have a “cavalier” attitude when it comes to protecting young social media users, who will grow up to question their exposure to “wild and dangerous” online spaces, England’s children's commissioner has said.
Children's Commissioner of England Ann Longfield compared online dangers to driving without a seatbelt, adding that children will wonder how adults ever allowed them to use social media during a time when “distressing content” was allowed on platforms.
In an interview with the Telegraphahead of her stepping down as children’s commissioner, Longfield expressed her “frustration” with the slow progress on duty of care laws to protect children online, according to the Independent.
She said: “I do think [children] will look back on this period and they will see it literally was a time where the digital world was a wild and dangerous place.
“I think they will wonder how adults ever let that happen and I think they will look at it in the same way we now look back and wonder how children were allowed to ride in cars without seatbelts.”
Speaking about the death of schoolgirl Molly Russell in 2017, Longfield said she would “never forget” the images of self-harm she saw online.
The 14-year-old, from Harrow in northwest London, engaged with tens of thousands of social media posts linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide in the six-month period before she ended her life.
The inquest into her death will look into how algorithms used by social media giants to keep users scrolling may have contributed to her death.
Longfield said: “I remember searching at that time and actually seeing those images. I don’t think I’ll ever forget seeing them, they were so shocking. It really did mean that action and to be taken.
“I think we could still go online and we could still find that on platforms enough distressing content to make us concerned. So I don’t think enough has been done. But certainly there was a change at that point.”
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