‘Online bans for youngsters would punish them for the failures of tech corporations’

With children continuing to be put at risk of harm and abuse online, campaigners, parents and politicians are rightly demanding more.

We must listen to children themselves. Their voices have been glaringly absent from the debate about how to keep them safe.

Young people want to be able to access the benefits of the online worlds safely. It is crucial for them to learn, communicate, explore and have fun online as well as outside in the fresh air. But blanket bans for teenagers would punish them for the failures of tech companies to adopt safety by design.

Of course, young children shouldn’t be accessing social media that is fundamentally unsafe. Age limits should be properly enforced. Companies must no longer be allowed to design algorithms that bombard children with dangerous, harmful material. But shutting young people out is not the answer.

Watch the Mirror’s new YouTube show Party Games as politicians spill secrets of being an MP


Join us for the Mirror’s new show Party Games as politicians spill the secrets of being an MP – while taking on the challenge of playing a well-known board game.

In the programme on the Mirror’s YouTube channel, familiar faces from across political spectrum will do battle with reporter Sophie Huskisson. At the same time they will face questions on who they are, what they stand for and why they became a politician.

In a relaxed tell-all chat over games including Kerplunk, Jenga and Snakes and Ladders, we hear about how they manage their work-life-balance, how they deal with social media trolls and about some of their worst and best times in Westminster.

Party Games is available now on the Mirror’s YouTube channel with new episodes every Monday at 6pm.

The parents and children I speak to know they have a part to play in staying safe online – but their task is currently much more difficult than it need be. They deserve help.

We’re proud to have campaigned for the Online Safety Act. It can be a gamechanger because of the courageous efforts of bereaved families, abuse survivors and young people. Robust implementation of the legislation can deliver a safer online world for children, delivering a real step change by ensuring children have age-appropriate experiences online.

The regulator Ofcom must continue to be ambitious and build strong rules for companies to follow. Social media sites can no longer hide behind warm words and empty promises. Failure to act must result in tough consequences.