Reading Time: 3.6 mins

September 6, 2023

Social media firms told to block under-13s or face ‘humongous fines

  • Social media firms must deactivate underaged children’s accounts or risk fines, the Technology Secretary has warned. 
  • Michelle Donelan said she wanted a “zero tolerance” approach to under 13s using Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok. 
  • She stated that the mental health roll and the ramifications for young people under 13 is unimaginable. 
  • Ms Donelan further reported that the Online Safety Bill would “save young people’s lives” by protecting them from harmful content. 
  • She argued that if companies are found by Ofcom (regulator of the Online Safety Bill) to be allowing under 13s on the platforms, they could face criminal liability. 
  • Meta, owner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp have started introducing new measures such as video age verification tests ahead of the legislation.  
  • However, encrypted app firms, such as WhatsApp have threatened to quit the UK if ministers went ahead with the Bill. 
  • This is because the Bill would require firms to introduce scanning technology for checking child abuse content.  They claim this undermines user privacy. 
  • Ms Donelan stated that upon speaking with parents, they report wanting the “Government to protect their children online” and “want these companies to protect their children online”. 
  • For more, please visit the Telegraph website. 

Rise in young women vaping daily in the UK

  • More young women in the UK are vaping daily, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported. 
  • Statistics amongst women aged 16-24, show an increase of 1.9% in 2021 to 6.7% in 2022 (62,000 to 225,000 across the UK). 
  • Vaping and smoking are illegal for anyone under 18, with children’s doctors calling for a complete ban on popular, brightly coloured, flavoured vapes in particular. 
  • Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) stated “The Government’s response to the consultation on youth vaping due imminently must contain concrete measures to prohibit child-friendly branding, and put products out of sight and out of reach in shops, as well as much stricter regulation, including a tax on the pocket money-priced disposable vapes most popular with children.” 
  • For more, please visit the BBC News website. 

The following stories may be regionalised:

Parents should not keep children out of school for sore throats and runny noses

  • The advice comes as education leaders have voiced concerns about the rise in children missing school in England since Covid-19. 
  • A letter, signed by leaders of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal college of Psychiatrists, Royal Society for Public Health, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of General Practitioners and the chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, have given advice on absences. 
  • The letter reports that whilst some children can display difficult emotions, being in school can help alleviate the underlying issues. 
  • It adds that “prolonged period of absence is likely to heighten a child’s anxiety about attending in the future, rather than reduce it”. 
  • Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders stated, “Schools also need the support of attendance officers who are able to get out in the community and talk directly to parents and carers”. 
  • Ms McCulloch called upon targeted Government investment and support to tackle the factors that are having an impact on attendance. 
  • For more, please visit the Independent website. 

Highest number of children with speech and language challenges ever recorded, report says

  • Speech and Language UK research has indicated that one in five primary and secondary aged children are estimated to be behind in their speech and understanding of words. 
  • The charity has stated that this is the highest number of children with speech and language challenges ever recorded.  
  • The report, which was based on a survey of teachers also found that 80% think children in their classroom are behind with their speech and/or understanding of words. 
  • 73% of teachers surveyed feel that children’s speech and language is not prioritised by the government. 
  • 53% of teachers do not believe that they have received enough training to support students’ speech and language in the classroom.  
  • A spokesperson for the Department for Education has said that they are “conscious of the effect of the pandemic” and the effect it has had on education which is why almost £5 billion has been made available for education recovery. 
  • For more, please visit the Sky News website.