back to article Parliamentarians urge next UK govt to consider ban on smartphones for under-16s

A committee of MPs has urged the next government to consider a total ban on smartphones for under-16s in the UK. The UK has seen a spike in young children's screen time since the pandemic, yet systems designed to protect them from harmful content are not fit for purpose, according to a report from a House of Commons education …

  1. seven of five

    (Apart from the fact it would never work): wow, that's a retarded idea, if I ever heard one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      National Service for the youth, massive pension hikes, and now phone bans for kids

      What next ... ?

      https://newsthump.com/2024/05/28/from-asbestos-to-white-dogshit-six-cherished-things-of-our-past-the-government-is-pledging-to-bring-back/

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        *And only four channels that on a Saturday afternoon when you're not at school, showed nothing but boring sports and a black and white film*

        Though now I've matured I would be glad of that source of black and white movies (apparently a fair few films that the BBC showed back in the 1980s haven't had dvd releases). As a child, TV was boring enough to drive us outside to climb / build / break / ride / set fire to something.

        1. PB90210 Bronze badge

          Talking Pictures TV...

          (they even have some in colour)

          Fireball XL5... Those test-cardy programmes about mangelwurzel harvesting in Basingstoke...

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Don't forget the spaghetti harvest.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Welcome home .....

          3. Bebu Silver badge
            Windows

            mangelwurzel harvesting in Basingstoke.

            Luxury!

            Sound positively riveting compared to our test pattern and saccharine classical music and when broadcasts started from our single station at 5pm it was the likes of "Bill and (bloody) Ben" (who gave a rat's which one of those 'ers it was?) or "Magic Roundabout" with a hippy dog sucking LSD laced sugar cube and some sort demented hybrid between an escaped jack-in-a-box and a grub bouncing all over the shop - the children even then seemed like the "special" class on an outing.

            I noticed as an adult, children's tv did improve for a while to the point that much of the content was superior to the adult fare. Now both are pretty dire. :(

            1. Captain Hogwash

              Re: mangelwurzel harvesting in Basingstoke.

              I won't have that! Magic Roundabout was wonderful. Furthermore, Dougal's frantic nervous energy suggests some variety of white crystalline stimulant rather than LSD.

        2. William Towle
          Happy

          TV

          > TV was boring enough to drive us outside to climb / build / break / ride / set fire to something.

          "Just switch of your TV set and go out and do something less boring instead?" I usually waited for the show to end first.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "National Service for the youth"

        They seem to have taken the first episodes of Tes Minister (getting rid of rthe difficult bit in the title) and now Yes Prime Minister (national service) as a source of ideas. Did nobody tell them it was saire?

        "massive pension hikes"

        Anyone old enough to remember YM and YPM is probably in favour of this.

        1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

          That last line is going to be the reason you will get all the downvotes on this.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            And you think it's likely to be untrue?

            1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

              Given you included myself and most of my friends in it? Yes.

        2. PB90210 Bronze badge

          National Service for the youth

          It's as if the Tories are not even going for the pretext of trying to win...

          Free llamas for every school! Compulsory beards for chicken farmers!

          1. Bebu Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: National Service for the youth

            《It's as if the Tories are not even going for the pretext of trying to win...

            Free llamas for every school! Compulsory beards for chicken farmers!》

            Bring back traditional english values!

            Universal compulsory Morris dancing, Mumming and Folk Music festival attendence.

            Should do the trick.

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: National Service for the youth

            Bad idea. Llamas are dangerous.1 When you see llamas, you should shout «¡Peligro! ¡Hay llamas!».

            1They have a beak, for eating honey.

        3. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          The Out-of-Ideas Party grasping desperately at the most obvious cliché...

          Eh? They didn't even need to look that far.

          The idea that they should "Bring back National Service!" is one of those views already long-associated with the stereotypical "traditional" Tory voter.

          The whole thing smacked of desperation as soon as they announced it- a party completely out of ideas, reaching for the most obvious, low-hanging attempt to appeal to their own base (who they're frightened will abandon them for Reform UK) with an abruptly-announced-out-of-nowhere "policy" that contradicted what they'd said just three days before.

          We can safely dismiss the idea that this pulled-out-of-thin-air attempt to save their own backsides had anything do with the claimed justification of promoting social responsibility (from the guy who tried to scrap Cameron's previous "Big Society" volunteering scheme then cut its budget by two-thirds) or supporting the army (after years of presiding over endless cuts that have helped reduce it to a shadow of its former self).

          Especially as- if what I've heard is correct- those in the army itself seem to think that dealing with unenthusiastic youngsters forced to spend time on it with no intention of coming back when its over will be a waste of both time and money.

          And apparently it's all going to be paid for by diverting money originally planned for the much-vaunted "Levelling Up" scheme (i.e. the Tories' pork barrel replacement for EU funding).

          But as long as it reduces the risk of Major Fotherington-Stereotype from supporting Nigel Farage and chums and the Tories losing a seat in the Home Counties, that's what really matters, isn't it?

          1. PB90210 Bronze badge

            Re: The Out-of-Ideas Party grasping desperately at the most obvious cliché...

            Rather than National Service, they could simply sack Crapita from it's shamebolic role of running army recruitment and bring it back in-house

          2. Bebu Silver badge

            Re: The Out-of-Ideas Party grasping desperately at the most obvious cliché...

            We can expect a return to the gold standard with the reelected Sunak government then?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The Out-of-Ideas Party grasping desperately at the most obvious cliché...

              Sunak's already on the gold standard, wife-wise...

          3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: The Out-of-Ideas Party grasping desperately at the most obvious cliché...

            The idea that they should "Bring back National Service!" is one of those views already long-associated with the stereotypical "traditional" Tory voter.

            Is it so bad? What does the nation serve? I mean, if it's hamburgers, I understand the problem. (I've had English hamburgers. Well, an English hamburger. I learned my lesson.)

        4. Captain Hogwash

          Maybe in about 9 years.

    2. Tron Silver badge

      quote: (Apart from the fact it would never work): wow, that's a retarded idea, if I ever heard one.

      Well they have form: Have you heard of a little known policy called Brexit?

    3. UnknownUnknown

      Yup … age verification system completely broken so let’s ban something instead. Quality.

    4. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      I'm baffled, I want to upvote the first part of your post and downvote the second

      1. seven of five

        Why that? Since I gave the retards a bad name by comparing them to politicans?

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Ban pop music for under 16s

    It's obviously causing these out breaks of ghastly frightfullness among the youth.

    Yours

    Col Throat Warbler Mangrove (retd)

    1. Bendacious Bronze badge

      Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

      Only this morning I witnessed hijinks on the thoroughfare outside. It's these rappists with their rap music to blame. Since teachers lost the ability to break children's limbs for insolence it's been downhill. Never did me any harm.

      Karen Piers-Morgan

      Broadmoor, Berkshire

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

        I agree, ban books.

        Kids today reading this disgusting filth from Chaucer and not practicing their archery

        1. H in The Hague

          Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

          "I agree, ban books."

          Well, the new coalition government in NL is already planning to bring books, concerts, etc. under the high VAT rate (21%), rather than the current low VAT rate (9%).

          And planning to bring back duty-free red diesel for farmers.

          No, I did not vote for them :(

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

        "And Brexit is brilliant, blah-de-blah-de-blah" -- Disgusted from Tunbridge Wells.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

      ... Col Throat Warbler Mangrove (retd) ,,, but spelt Mr Luxury Yacht

    3. UnknownUnknown

      Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

      (Retd) is that retired or retarded short form!?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ban pop music for under 16s

        Is there a difference?

  3. trevorde Silver badge

    Does not go far enough!

    Also ban hoodies. And bring back the birch. And national service!

    1. CountCadaver Silver badge

      Re: Does not go far enough!

      Way too "woke" and "wishy washy pc liberal" - even the gallows isnt firm enough, bring back burning at the stake and breaking on the wheel I say ( /s )

      1. Munehaus

        Re: Does not go far enough!

        Gallows? We used to dream of gallows. We had to be hit by meteorites until we had a hole. Then we had to live in the hole.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Does not go far enough!

          Bring back capital punishment in schools - Nail em up I say, nail some sense into them

        2. Adam Foxton

          Re: Does not go far enough!

          A hole kept warm by burning meteorite debris? Luxury.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Does not go far enough!

      Do you really want to bring back Mary Whitehouse ?

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

        Re: Does not go far enough!

        Wasn't that one by Culture Club?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does not go far enough!

        No.

        But "The Mary Whitehouse Experience"? Yeah, bring that back.

        Milky milky!

        1. Michael Strorm Silver badge

          Re: Does not go far enough!

          You see that Mary Whitehouse?

          That's your mum, that is.

          1. Chloe Cresswell Silver badge

            Re: Does not go far enough!

            Hey, what's this? it's got a really good beat <dad dancing>

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. ChrisElvidge Bronze badge

    "Social media" age limits

    The problem is not smart phones, it is social media and their algorithms. If the lower age for kids to use social networking is 13 (by their own conditions), turn it into law and prosecute if it can be shown that they allow under-13s onto their site. It only takes one.

    1. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: "Social media" age limits

      The problem is not smart phones, it is social media and their algorithms.

      Yes and no. Smartphones enable a level of online bullying which can be difficult to detect and address. This can often take place in social platforms such as group chats in messenger services. But it's also endemic in straight messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Kids taking photos or mocking videos, sometimes of other bullying events and sharing them across a school becomes trivial (although so does evidence gathering - save to phone & screenshot the chats).

      Obviously kids scrapping in a back alley will always will be a thing, but there's half a chance someone will pass by, or parents will notice the bruises when they walk in as opposed to "are they acting a bit odd?" as their child quietly has a mental breakdown from the barrage of ugly messages. Moreover, traditional bullying is unlikely to exist much out of school and certainly not in a child's own home (abusive domestic situations notwithstanding). But with a phone they're tethered to the bullying and get to take it home with them.

      Many of us will turn our work laptops off at the end of the day, or leave the work phone at home when we leave on holiday. Do we let kids "unplug" from what's going on at school in the same way?

      This is basically unavoidable with any personal messaging device. Dumb phones with limited media capability would stem it to harsh words rather than videos, but the fact is that kids can be vile.

      On the flip side normalising the idea of being required to turn over a phone "for inspection" is equally problematic as it de-sensitises the child to surveillance capitalism, loss of privacy, and could be dangerous for kids in a domestic abuse situation.

      Schools which ban phones during the school day and require them to be handed in or left in lockers are basically doing the right thing. That at least limits the opportunity for in-school shenanigans, taking videos in changing-rooms or anything like that (which should and probably is handled on a zero-tolerance basis - read them the riot act on "this is basically a sex offence").

      In terms of banning phones for under-16s, I'm in two minds. On the one hand. Sure, why not? We all managed (albeit there used to be payphones for edge cases. W've done away with that, just like public transport - everyone drives don't they?!). Teenagers don't actually need to be permanently connected to the internet (no, really, they don't). On the other hand, in the same vein as alcohol, it's probably not a great idea for them to be dunked face-first into it on their 16th birthday. Build up a respect and understanding - half a glass of wine with dinner on a friday or whatever. Demystify it.

      The key issue tends to be that it requires parenting. And a lot of people would love for "the techie coders" to develop a technical solution for a social problem. Which isn't going to happen.

      --------

      Tangentially related is the fact phones get in the way of kids growing up and dealing with the world on their own. I used to help with a Scout group. This was 10 years ago and kids were getting feature phones or basic smart phones. We went on one camp and a younger kid (~13, only just up from Cubs) came to us to say "someone's stolen my money. I've called my mum, she'll be here in half an hour".

      Now, in the first instance - nobody had nicked his money. We found his wallet in the bottom of his sleeping bag within two minutes of actually looking.

      Secondly, his first response - instead of coming to the actual adults/leaders and resolving the issue quickly - was to call home, spin the terrible "I've been robbed" story and get her to drive 90 minutes (not half an hour. This was a longer distance away camp!) to come and see us.

      As a general rule we started banning phones from camps, except where we were going hiking, because although we did of course follow POR and have emergency phones, radios and backups, we always figured it didn't hurt for every kid to have a phone (on a diversity of networks) in their rucksack in case things went uncommonly sideways. Also for we sent them off to do sections or walks on their own.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: "Social media" age limits

        Agreed. Complicated problems rarely have simple solutions. And children and their situations vary enormously, of course.

    2. PB90210 Bronze badge

      Re: "Social media" age limits

      But that means giving Google a DOB...

      (strangely they seem to have stopped nagging me for dob... possibly because my usernames have attained 'adulthood')

  5. Captain Hogwash

    Re:

    >"The Education Select Committee found no evidence that 13-year-old children could understand the implications of allowing platforms to have access to their personal data online."

    I have found no evidence that most of the adults I know understand this.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Re:

      It stands to reason. All the adults you know used to be 13.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Re:

        As a four year old kid I learned about light-speed calculations, after hearing about all of Albert Einstein's work on the BBC radio - my mother had been reading me "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" every night and I had heard that Macavity, the mystery cat, could defy the law of gravity so I wanted to work it all out ... with no phones in those days I had to listen to the radio all the time and every broadcast about Einstein was very helpful.

        Smart phones for kids are OK but reading books is MUCH BETTER! The risks of smart-phones are not as high as walking through a herd of cows and checking that you don't step on a snake - I never got bit by a snake and always walked around the cows. I might have liked a smart phone in those days but listening to the radio was fine.

  6. Antony Shepherd

    Here's a thought...

    What about teaching the kids about basics of online security and not to give away their details to random people?

    Might be better than some knee-jerk reaction of "The kids are using these things which didn't exist when we were their age! It must be banned!!" which is bullshit.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Here's a thought...

      Politicians aren't usually in favour of teaching kids critical thinking.

    2. Mark #255

      Re: Here's a thought...

      My kid (now doing A-levels) has been taught online security (to a reasonably competent degree) since primary school.

      Also, don't forget that for a significant percentage of 2020, school lessons were online only.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Here's a thought...

        That's why we need to ban smartphones for over 60 (or over 40 in the case of politicians) they just aren't capable of understanding the risks

    3. UnknownUnknown

      Re: Here's a thought...

      They had racism, misogyny, gay-haters when I was young however.

  7. neoaliphant

    What about

    Recording videos of bullies, location tracking by parents,

    Being able to phone for help if in danger.

    Allowing friend to use phone to phone childline.

    Making broadband and mobile service providers provide free content filtering might be better.

    1. Iain Thomas

      Re: What about

      Thought the UK mobile providers already provided content filtering on by default.

      And many of the larger broadband providers have it as an option.

    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: What about

      Most of which is available on dumb (or feature) phones.

    3. rg287 Silver badge

      Re: What about

      Recording videos of bullies

      Unfortunately, more often than not used by bullies to record their bullying, circulated around the school to mock the victim or torment the kid with later on. Of course they're documenting the case against themselves, if that stuff comes to light before the victim attempts to end it all (and no, I'm not being flippant with that last remark).

      location tracking by parents,

      Great, assuming the parents themselves are not abusive control freaks. Seriously, we've managed for millenia. The "dragged into the bushes" routine is astonishingly rare. Kidnap/rape/murder is overwhelmingly committed by trusted adults. There's a reason the high profile exceptions are high profile - they're very, very unusual.

      Also, if you're that desperate - airtags (other trackers are available).

      Being able to phone for help if in danger.

      Yes, I guess especially now we've ripped out all our phone boxes. But is there any evidence mobile phones have actually provided meaningful benefits to people in danger vs. the 1980s? They probably have, but the stats are probably a wash when balanced against stalkers. In terms of things like getting into trouble whilst hiking... people didn't carry a f-ing map in the 80s, and they still don't know how to give mountain rescue an accurate grid reference today. That's not a technical problem. (FWIW for Brits, the free OS Locate app iOS, Android gives you a compass, altimeter and OS grid ref. No mapping or nav, but it'll tell you where you are, which could save your life, although you should never go out without a paper map, physical compass and the knowledge of how to use both).

      Allowing friend to use phone to phone childline.

      Landlines exist?

      Making broadband and mobile service providers provide free content filtering might be better.

      They do. It's usually on by default as well, even for adults until you knock it off.

      This doesn't stop bullying, predatory behaviour on social media or other societal ills. It's also usually quite trivial to bypass.

      -------------------

      At the end of the day, all this is technical solutions to social problems. We had plenty of child sex abuse in the 1980s, committed by Saville, priests and trusted adults in care homes. Those kids didn't lack for a mobile phone. They could have told a teacher or a used a payphone. They didn't because they didn't feel empowered to, or that they wouldn't be believed. The more recent grooming gang scandals have all involved kids who definitely did have phones (that's how their pimps contacted them and exerted control from a distance).

      All this comes down to "do kids feel able to talk to someone about their issues?".

      Like, that's actually it. The whole thing in a nutshell. If the answer is "no they don't" then the parent has failed, or the school is not creating a supportive environment - distracted with OFSTED outcomes and box-ticking than doing a good job.

      "Is a kid going to come and talk to someone about it?" is the single, root consideration for basically everything from bullying to domestic abuse to grooming and external sex abuse.

      Smartphones are basically irrelevant in that discussion. Sure, that's one way of doing it. Talking to a teacher, emailing an abuse support agency from school or walking into a library (remember them?!) and asking "Can I use your phone to call childline?" are all options. Kids having personal mobile phones maybe offers some personal agency in being able to call childline themselves or with a friend, and that's undoubtedly a good thing. But we shouldn't rely on it because not every child does actually have their own phone. We need to structure our society in such a way that it's easy for anyone to access these services regardless of whether they have a phone, their phone is being monitored or whatever else.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about

      Recording videos of bullies, location tracking by parents,

      Being able to phone for help if in danger.

      Allowing friend to use phone to phone childline.

      Making broadband and mobile service providers provide free content filtering might be better.

      FFS! The world managed to cope with these non-sequiturs just fine in the days before we had interwebs and mobile phones. Mind you, I did have to sneak jizz mags from the stash my dad hid behind a toolbox (fnar, fnar) in the garage.

      As for banning smartphones for under 16s, where are the parents in all this? Surely it's their responsibility to look after their kids and keep them safe? After all, they're supposed to be able to a much better job of that than Beardie's smut filters or whoever happens to be bullshit minister of the week. If the parents can't be arsed to do that, why should anyone else be expected to take that responsibility for them?

  8. IGotOut Silver badge

    Welcome to the new...

    People's Republic of Great Britain.

  9. may_i

    Ban this, ban that. Ban them!

    Instead of trying to implement more and more bans on more and more things and behaviours, how about trying things which make parents take the responsibilities that they have as parents seriously?

    The government is not (and should not be) responsible for ensuring that your children are brought up to be responsible and functioning members of society.

    And to all of you suggesting that the responsibility for constraining access to social media and the Internet in general by children is the government's problem to fix, think again. The only way to do that is to make it impossible to use the Internet without having to legally identify yourself. This is an exceptionally bad idea. An Internet with no possibility to be anonymous is something the government would love, and you are playing right into big brother's hands.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ban this, ban that. Ban them!

      I would love for there to be 2 internets: one where everyone is essentially anonymous, and one where every identity is clearly confirmed. Email, banking, etc. goes in the second one. Social stuff could go in either. Kids aren't permitted on the first one for their own protection. Get a message "from your bank" while on #1? It's a scam, period.

      Posting AC from habit; guess that indicates I'd like most forums to be #1.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Ban this, ban that. Ban them!

        There's no need to have two separate internets. Merely implement the RFC3514 evil bit

  10. Zibob Bronze badge

    That will NEVER work

    Its too late, the horse has bolted. It would be very hard to have a 17 year old who has had their phone since 14, stand next to a 16 years old who will be told "it doesn't matter what your friends have, its illegal"

    Its not even kids buying the phones anyway its the parents. Which have the common wisdom of "it doesn't matter what the law says I'm their legal guardian and in will buy the phone"

    Unless you want brutal police state that care more about kids having phones than actual crimes, not least those perpetrated by those handing down the same laws, there no easy way to enforce this. ID everyone with a phone regardless of age...

    Oh I see now, IDs for children...

    1. gryphon

      Re: That will NEVER work

      "Oh I see now, IDs for children..."

      Scotland already has that via the back-door.

      Look up Young Scot National Entitlement card.

      Basically gives under 22's free bus travel amongst other things but all 'helpfully' taken care of by schools.

  11. withQuietEyes

    It's almost as if A) more and more of children's homework is processed in online platforms and B) there aren't enough safe options for modern kids to physically hang out with their friends with even marginal privacy from their parents.

  12. VicMortimer Silver badge
    Big Brother

    And how would they enforce this?

    Would they arrest parents for buying their kids phones?

    Would they arrest kids for phone possession?

    How much more of a police state will that country become?

    This is stupid, and these idiots need to be removed from power at the earliest convenience.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: And how would they enforce this?

      And what about a tablet? It's almost a PC, which presumably kids are still allowed access to, but it is more portable.

      1. Number 39

        Re: And what about a tablet?

        My thought too.

        Also what about iPod touch style Android MP3 players?

        And Phablets?

        And Tablets with data?

        Or even android devices with number pads?

        Will they ban it by size connectivity, operating system?

        Or will it be a vague decision, and then work out what they meant after it had been set in stone? Never a good idea and the most obvious example of such has already be referenced in a previous comment.

  13. Tron Silver badge

    In short....

    MPs urge MPs to nationalise parenting. All parental decisions to be made by a team of MPs led by Liz Truss. On call service for those needing advice 24/7 answered by Trussty, an AI chatbot version of Liz Truss.

    1. R Soul Silver badge

      Re: In short....

      Sadly, that chatbot is still trying and failing to open up new pork markets. And. That. Is. A. Disgrace.

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: In short....

      Actually, the delightful Archangel of Terror, Louis Saint-Just, wanted something like that: all children were to be taken from their parents, and raised by the State. In dormitories.

      No fear of bullying there...

  14. mark l 2 Silver badge

    As the article mentioned children as young as five are being allowed unsupervised access to the internet right now, so do we think that those parents who let their 5 year old online with no supervision are really going to ban their under 16 year old teen from having a phone or using social media app?

    How about we start by educating parents that ultimately they should be responsible for what their children are up to online.

    My nephew is 13 turning 14 in a few months and hes now got a phone, but his parents restricts when he can use it and for how long and what apps hes allowed on their. And if he hasn't done this home work or other chores he gets it taken away for X amount of time as a punishment. And AFAIK this is working.

    Of course this whole thing seems suspicious in its timing with a GE only weeks away and is probably just more Tory attacks on the youth - along with suggesting National service being brought back. They know statistically that young people are unlikely to be voting conservative so they are an easy target which appeals to the older Tory voter who think that young people today have it easy and want to take Britain back to the 1950s, with national service, school corporal punishment and red telephone boxes on every street corner.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My 9-year-old has an email address - but doesn't know it. It's only used for us to set up accounts for him (so far just Minecraft so we can play a private-to-the-family Realm); he can't access it. Our kids have to earn their screen time with good behavior. Neither are at all familiar with social media companies, much less are allowed to use the software. (Not that we adults do either.)

      Someday they'll have phones. For the first couple years they'll probably be feature phones. Definitely subject to parental inspection on a routine basis.

      All of this is for their own protection. People can cry "child privacy", but a child has no expectation of privacy from their parents, and for good reason - the parents' job is to take care of them in all aspects of their life, and that definitely includes the digital side.

  15. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    The other way...

    Looking around on the bus I see the under 16s either larking about with their mates or surprisingly more common that you would think, reading an actual dead tree book.

    Its the over 16s that are buried in the device - even obvious couples each buried in their own device!?

    Ban smart phones for the over 16s - anything with a camera, wifi, bluetooth, nfc ... - just voice calls and text.

    Unfortunately even my generation are just as afflicted.

  16. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Alternatively..

    They could ban all adverts on childrens' phones.

  17. dmedin

    Nanny state

    Ban this, ban that ... this is getting out of control and will get worse under Labour.

    Why don't we just give up and let the do-gooders tell us exactly how to live our lives?

    You know, a bit like North Korea? I hear the people there are very happy.

  18. Binraider Silver badge

    Where does the smartphone stop and tablet start? And how do you differentiate e.g. a Switch from an iPad?

    Barring the damn things from schools makes 100% sense; the move of bullying and social media sheep to that platform has only made a the standard problems of school even worse.

    But good luck enforcing it.

  19. Stork

    13 year olds not understanding what they consent to online?

    I bet most 43-year olds don't. Or the average government minister, shadow or not.

    IOW, that's not a reason.

  20. VBF
    Thumb Down

    3 (polite) words to describe this idea

    Ridiculous, Unfair, UNENFORCEABLE

    I do have some others but we are all ladies and gentlemen here, aren't we?

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