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Weekly Briefing: 30 January - 6 February 2019

Regulate social media to protect children, MPs urge

A report from the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee is recommending that social media companies should have a legal duty of care to children, according to the BBC. There have been calls for social regulation after an inquiry found it to be linked to bullying, online grooming and self-harm.

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Minister for school standards recommends banning phones in schools

The minister for school standards, Nick Gibb, has said that pupils should be banned from bringing their smartphones to school, according to the BBC. He has received criticism as many believe the answer to developing better online habits is not by banning phones, as they bring with them a lot of opportunities, but rather limiting the time children spend on their devices.

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Hancock will meet Instagram leaders to discuss children's safety

Health secretary Matt Hancock will be meeting with Instagram’s senior leadership later this week and will be pushing for a purge — removing self-harm, bullying and terrorist-related content from the platform, according to The Telegraph. Instagram has faced scrutiny since the suicide of 14-year-old Molly Russell who had viewed disturbing content on the platform.

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Number of children using Facebook is falling — but Instagram is popular

Ofcom’s annual report has found that Facebook’s popularity among children is falling after the number of 12- to 15-year-olds using the platform went down by two per cent since last year, according to the BBC. However, the number of people using the Facebook-owned social media platform Instagram has surged with many naming it their “main” social network.

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Smartwatch for kids recalled by EU over data concerns

The European Commission has recalled the Enox Safe-Kid-One smartwatch after it found that the wearer could be easily contacted and located due to its GPS and microphone functions, according to The Guardian. The functions are put in so that parents can track their children through a companion app, however, the app was found to have many weaknesses.

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Labour calls for standalone internet regulator to keep tech companies in check

Shadow culture secretary Tom Watson has revealed that if Labour wins the next election, it aims to establish an independent internet regulator with the power to fine tech companies which fail to protect children, according to The Guardian. The government will reveal their strategy to tackle harmful online content later this month which may involve regulation.

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