The Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, recently wrote to the largest social media companies following up on a meeting he had with them before Christmas 2017. He indicated his discontent with the slow progress they were making in areas such as age verification, screen time limits and cyber bullying. He gave them until 30 April to respond with details of the steps they have taken in relation to those points and their intentions in relation to ‘healthy screen time’ for young users. Possible legislation was threatened if the voluntary joint approach continued to prove unsatisfactory. The details of their responses have yet to be made public.
Across the UK in the last three years, 22 police forces have cumulatively reported an increase of 44% or 7,000 sexual offences involving children and young people where social media applications have been the means to facilitate the contact. Some of the reports have involved children as young as three years old. A separate, but related, concern is the access to inappropriate material children and young people can obtain through the use of social media and the internet.