A new law plans to ban children under 16 living in the European Union (EU) from social media unless they have parental consent – but New Zealand experts say it won’t have the desired effect.
EU Parliament introduced the change to the proposed data protection laws last week.
If the new legislation is passed it will raise the age of consent for websites to use personal data from 13 to 16.
It would mean millions of teenagers under 16 would be forced to seek permission from parents whenever signing up to a social media account, downloading an app or even using search engines.
The proposed changes would also put Europe out of step with other parts of the world.
The law is due to be negotiated between member states on Tuesday before a vote.
Almost all major social media services, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Google, currently have a minimum age of 13.
It’s a stupid law that will be counter-productive.
Even the minimum age of 13 is counter-productive as millions of kids get around that by changing their date of birth. Entire classes of eight year olds are on Facebook.
Rather than ban kids too young, you should let them join showing their real age, but use that to protect them. So let a nine year old be on Facebook, but block them from adult groups and from unsolicited messages.
But if you force them to pretend to be 18 to join up, then you teach them to lie about their age, and lose the ability to protect them.
So the proposed new law in Europe will actually harm kids, not help them.