How to Protect Children from Harmful Social Media Content

The programs that are offered on social media sites to send a variety of recommendations to its readers increase the risk of children. These recommendations engines send more and more information to the teenager looking for information for mental exhaustion or suicide.

Sophie Parkinson was only 13 when she committed suicide. She was suffering from depression and was thinking of committing suicide.

Her mother, Ruth Moss, believes Sophie has been motivated to commit suicide by watching videos online.

Like many young people, Sophie bought a mobile phone at the age of 12. After a while, her mother realizes that she is using that phone to watch all the contents online that is not suitable for her at all.

"The hardest thing for my family was when we found out after her death that she had seen some pictures and guides detailing how to commit suicide," she said.

According to Ofcom, the UK's telecommunications regulator, 90 percent of 12- to 15-year-olds have a mobile phone. Three out of every four of them now have social media accounts.

By law, popular apps do not allow anyone under the age of 13 to open an account. But children are still creating these accounts and social media platforms are doing nothing to stop them.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), a UK child protection charity, believes technology companies should be forced to legislate to consider the risks children face when viewing these contents.

"For more than a decade, the big technology companies have not given much thought to the safety of children as a core part of their business," said Andy Burrows, head of the NSPCC's Child Protection Policy Division.

"These sites are designed to put vulnerable teenagers at greater risk by sending more and more of this type of content to those who are thinking of harming themselves."

Keep an eye out, delete

A video of a young man committing suicide has recently been posted on Facebook.

The video footage later spread to other platforms. The clip has been on the popular video platform TickTock for quite some time.

TickTock authorities acknowledge that if social media companies work together, it will be possible to better protect the safety of their users.

But Sophie's mother, Ruth Moss, agrees with the NSPC here. He thinks social media companies should not be responsible for monitoring these issues.

She said much of the content her daughter saw online six years ago can still be seen. If you type certain words on Facebook or Instagram, those pictures can still be seen.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced it would expand the reach of its automated tool on Instagram to detect and eliminate suicidal and harmful content.

But Facebook says European laws on the protection of personal information are so strict that they have little to do.

Other small start-ups have now started using technology to solve this problem.

A company called SafetyWatch is developing software that can instantly block images of violence or nudity using artificial intelligence technology.

This software can monitor audio and analyze the relevance of any visual content.

The company says that while parents can protect their children, the privacy of young people is not compromised.

"We don't let anyone else see what young people are doing, because what is most needed for cybersecurity is to gain the child's trust," said Richard Percy, the company's founder.

'Open Discussion'

Parents are often blamed for this problem, says Ruth Moss. As children get older, as they become more self-reliant, the opportunities to help them with technology become more limited.

"Most parents don't know or keep an eye on what's going on in their teenage child's mobile phone," he says.

And most experts believe that most children will be exposed to such inappropriate content online at some point.

They suggest increasing the 'digital resistance' ability in children.

Psychologist said. Linda Papadopoulos says, "Just as children are taught other things to live a safe life, the skills to stay safe online also need to be developed in children."

"We need to talk openly with boys and girls about what kind of content is available online, and also teach them how to protect themselves from these things."

He said the average age of children who view pornography online is 11 years.

His advice is, if your child does something like this, sit down with him and explain the matter to him without snatching the mobile phone from his hand.

"Think about it in a cold head before making any hasty decisions," he says.

Source: BBC Bangla

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