Facebook and YouTube are the worst offenders for exposing children to suicide and sex, NSPCC report finds
Facebook and YouTube have been highlighted by a leading charity for being the worst offenders in exposing children to themes of suicide, violence and bullying.
In a league table published by children’s charity NSPCC in partnership with O2, the social network and the streaming site both come out as “high” risks for exposing young people to adult content. The findings are the result of a survey encompassing 2,059 young people and 2,049 parents and carers, asked about their experiences online.
YouTube and Facebook received “high” risk ratings across topics such as “violence” and “bullying”, as well as sexual themes and other adult imagery. Twitter and Reddit were also stamped with “high” ratings for several categories, although these platforms were deemed to have a “medium” risk for exposure to themes of suicide. Google got into hot water earlier this year after prominent YouTuber Paul Logan uploaded a video showing a dead body in the Aokigahara forest in Japan.
A 16-year-old girl who reviewed YouTube as part of the survey said: “When you’re watching a video of something like a makeup artist, a video can be at the side of something completely different that could be sexual/hurtful or anything else. It’s easy to get yourself into a bad video.”
Elsewhere in the table, Instagram has been judged as a “high” risk for exposure to bully and sexual themes. Oddly, YouTube and Facebook are joined at the top of the league by the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was originally released back in 2004.
While the league table was published earlier in May, it has resurfaced in the wake of an announcement by the British government that it will seek to introduce laws to rein in social media companies. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, culture secretary Matt Hancock admitted that such a law to enforce anti-bullying or harassment rules is still two years away. Hancock has previously worked with the NSPCC to advocate for new social media laws under the ‘Wild West Web‘ campaign.
“For Government to finally commit to laws to protect children online is a huge step forward and a victory for the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign,” said NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless, in the wake of Hancock’s announcement this weekend.
“Crucially these laws will seek to protect young people from online crimes such as grooming, as well as other harms like bullying. This is where the real work starts. It’s vital the safety code, the regulator that enforces it, and the transparency measures to hold social networks to account are all enshrined in law.”
Hancock said on Sunday that an invitation to 14 social media companies to discuss the clampdown resulted in only four turning up. According to a government green paper, Facebook and Google seem to have been amongst that number.
If you are feeling suicidal, or are concerned about a friend or loved one, the Samaritans offer confidential support. Call 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or go to the Samaritans website for more details and support.