back to article UK digi minister Hancock suggests Facebook and pals give your kids a time-out

UK Minister of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock said this weekend he wants social media sites to enforce a cut-off for youngsters on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the like. Under the proposals, which he floated in an interview with The Times on Saturday, teenagers face being pushed away from social media …

  1. Redstone
    Childcatcher

    Hmmm.

    Hancock accused social media companies of failing in their duty of care to children

    Not being funny here Mr Hancock, but isn't the primary duty of care with the parents? If you allow a rapacious corporation like Arsebook to act in loco parentis rather than - I don't know, maybe spending time with your offspring and controlling your child's internet access yourself, then what do you really expect?

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm.

      I wonder where Gillick Competency comes into this? Roughly speaking, if a child appears to be mature enough to make their own decisions, then they must be allowed to.

      Dumb idea, big headache if loads of children learn about it: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-protection-system/legal-definition-child-rights-law/gillick-competency-fraser-guidelines/

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm.

      Because kids these days, they're not dumb? And they realized they can connect from other places than the computer in the home living room? From their personal cell phone, from a friend's place, from the school's computers and whatnot?

      Actually, it's not like it's a particularly new idea, 3 decades ago, I knew how to watch certain movies in places lacking parental supervision.

      Parents sure do have a role, but expecting them to be looking at their kids' actions 24/7, or even a portion of that, is unrealistic. Many of them would like to but have to work late, or simply lack the skills. Companies that make billions exploiting kids' data can help.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Hmmm.

        And they realized they can connect from other places than the computer in the home living room?

        If the platforms 'pseudo-suspended' the accounts for - say - 18 hours a day it wouldn't matter much where the kids tried to access them from.

        I'm unsure about this idea. On the one hand I have never liked government interference in parenting (or indeed any other part of citizen's lives). On the other hand it's a difficult thing for parents to 'police' so maybe they need some help. But I'm even less keen on abdicating responsibility to corporations.

        And..do we actually know it does harm? It is very likely affecting the culture their generation is developing but just because it looks different to the older generation(s) doesn't mean that it's bad. There were plenty of people who thought Rock 'n Roll would cause the end of civilisation.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Hmmm.

          There were plenty of people who thought Rock 'n Roll would cause the end of civilisation.

          You mean, it didn't????!!!

          Sorry, couldn't resist. I'll get me coat. The black leather jacket with "HIGHWAY TO HELL" on the back, please

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The black leather jacket with "HIGHWAY TO HELL" on the back, please

            Sewn together out of good intentions, was it? :-)

            1. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

              Re: The black leather jacket with "HIGHWAY TO HELL" on the back, please

              This ain't no technological breakthrough. This is the road ... TO HELL.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmmm.

        "Because kids these days, they're not dumb?"

        Strongly depends on the kid these days. Sadly.

        I run a small business which sells gothic & alternative clothing and accessories - which means it's something a lot of kids "don't get".

        Aside from the usual kids walking past yelling "moshers, freaks, weirdos" etc. We get some of them in the age range of 13-16 coming in to ask questions such as (and I've really been asked these by them)

        - What's a belt?

        - What are wristbands?

        - What's an umbrella?

        - Do you worship the devil?

        Etc. You get the point. At first I thought "it's got to be a wind up" - but then you look at their faces and.. their dead serious they have no idea.

        For example, with belts I usually say "it's to hold your trousers up" and the response 9 times out of 10 is "Why would you want to do that? it's cool to have your trousers low!".

        So yup, kids aren't always smart. I'm sure their are some really smart kids out there, but there are also some really dumb ones. Just don't assume that all kids are smart.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thin end of the Wedge

      we'll soon be like Egypt and Sri Lanka.

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm.

      This is of course textbook Daily Mail politics.

      First read the Daily Mail and pick a subject they're showing an interest in and you're department is in some way connected.

      Then think of a way you can make whatever the subject was go away, get regulated, banned, become more popular etc.*

      Thirdly make many pronouncements about how the dreadful or good* the current situation is and that you plan to address it.

      *depending on topic.

      Fourthly try and introduce legislation to produce the desired results despite how dumb it is, unlikely to work etc.

      Wait for the votes to flood in on election day.

  2. Tsurotu

    "I want to get this fixed before my children go on the internet. I am very worried about them being on social media. We take great care in deciding who babysits our children."

    You personally, Matt. *You're* the one who is supposed to be babysitting your children. It isn't up to corporations to make sure they're raising your kids correctly and teaching them the correct lessons. It is up to *you* to ensure their wellbeing. If you want to limit their social media usage, there are *plenty* of ways to do this yourself.

    Don't tar everyone else with your lazy brush.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      You personally, Matt.

      Indeed. It also means that he sucks so badly at talking to his children that he has been incapable of explaining exactly what makes each and every one of the social leeches vile. It is not that difficult Matt, you just have to talk to your children and treat them as thinking human beings capable of making decisions (Yes, I am aware that this may result in social services being called in this Nanny State).

    2. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      RE: Tsurotu

      I doubt this is an issue for Matt Hancock's kids, since they're probably only allowed one social media account...And it has no users to bug them...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RE: Tsurotu

        And if the government gets its way, his kids won't be allowed to create social media accounts anyway, because their name has the word 'cock' in it.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      You personally, Matt. *You're* the one who is supposed to be babysitting your children.

      Really! Don't you know how busy he is babysitting everyone else's? You can't expect him to find time to look after his own.

    4. JimboSmith Silver badge

      "I want to get this fixed before my children go on the internet. I am very worried about them being on social media. We take great care in deciding who babysits our children."

      You personally, Matt. *You're* the one who is supposed to be babysitting your children. It isn't up to corporations to make sure they're raising your kids correctly and teaching them the correct lessons. It is up to *you* to ensure their wellbeing. If you want to limit their social media usage, there are *plenty* of ways to do this yourself.

      Don't tar everyone else with your lazy brush.

      I agree. I would guess that The Right Honourable Mr Hancock is paid a bit more than the average wage in this country. Therefore he probably can afford someone to look after his kids whilst he is hard at work. Therefore in the first instance he should be looking at home to his own actions with his offspring. I know people who earn a hell of a lot less than he does who manage to successfully keep their children away from social media or restrict their usage. You're blaming social media when you need to look at your own parenting Mr Hancock. If you're not capable of doing this then it makes me wonder about your capabilities as a minister in the government. Or do you just need some civil servants to allow you to successfully parent your children.

  3. Not also known as SC
    FAIL

    PIcking Holes In This Idea

    I don't even know where to begin pointing out the flaws with this proposal. At least though he is 'thinking of the children (TM)'

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: PIcking Holes In This Idea

      In this case, and with pretty much anything else Hancock spews out, it is far quicker and easier to highlight parts that are not flaws.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: At least though he is 'thinking of the children (TM)'

      And the road to Hell is paved with good intentions . . .

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: And the road to Hell is paved with good intentions . . .

        Does this also mean that good intentions can /only/ be used to pave the road to hell? If so, how do we "pave a road" to somewhere better than Hell? With bad intentions?

        Surely the point is not whether we can quote some creaky old cliche, but how we might implement something that will achieve a positive outcome in line with whatever good intentions we might have. The use of an unqualified "the road to Hell is paved with good intentions" damns by implication all good intentions - whether well implemented or not - which seems to me to be a knee-jerk strategy paving the "road to Hell" rather effectively in and of itself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And the road to Hell is paved with good intentions . . .

          I hate to state the obvious but the saying is there to explain that good intentions are not enough, it's what comes (or doesn't come) after the intentions which matter.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: the saying is there to explain ...

            Well, indeed. But the saying is by itself useless, and since no other context was given, merely served to imply that Hancock's good intentions were only going to result in a malign outcome.

            Of course, if your aim was merely to achieve some vacuous rhetorical impact, then keep up the good work. A couple of suggestions: you might also claim that Hancock's position "is untenable" without explaining why, or assert that you "refute" something or other without providing an actual refutation. These usually work pretty well.

            But if you really want to demonstrate that such a negative outcome was probable, you actually have to analyse proposed solution(s), not merely trot out a well-worn phrase or two.

            1. Teiwaz Silver badge

              Re: the saying is there to explain ...

              merely served to imply that Hancock's good intentions were only going to result in a malign outcome.

              With recent the recent gov bods we've been getting, we're lucky if the 'good intentions' are merely innocuous, rather than seemingly the product of some hidden player prompting various political 'Jar Jars' into making malign moves under the cloak of 'good intentions'

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: PIcking Holes In This Idea

      He's not thinking of the children. He's just making COPPA part of UK law, as if any better alternative weren't possible.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most kids homework is done online these days, care to comment minister ?

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Most kids homework is done online these days, care to comment minister ?

      The first para states "he wants to social media sites to enforce a cut-off for youngsters on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat." I don't see anywhere in the article where Hancock suggests applying restrictions to homework-related internet use, and I don't think that homework assignments are very likely to require completion using social media sites (and if they do, they shouldn't).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Most kids homework is done online these days, care to comment minister ?

        >The first para states....

        I suspect you are the product of doing homework on a screen rather than paper as the subtext of the comment seems to have passed you by.

        Smoking computers is bad for you kids but here's one to do your homework with.

  5. Anonymous Noel Coward
    Boffin

    >I want to get this fixed before my children go on the internet.

    I wouldn't worry.

    Websites by then will probably require more bandwidth to be point of being unviewable in the UK - because we'll still be stuck with our telecommunications infrastructure which is decades ahead of it's time... about a century ago.

  6. Alister Silver badge

    Hancock said the limits would be enforced using a new legal requirement for social media companies to ensure that anyone setting up profiles is aged above 13.

    Nice of him to leave the details of how they could possibly do that to the social media companies to sort out. Because of course every 13 year old has irrefutable proof of age, and nobody lies on the internet.

    1. Anonymous Noel Coward
      Trollface

      >[...] nobody lies on the internet.

      I remember once having a conversation with a nine year old who said she worked for the FBI, which I thought was pretty cool for someone of her age.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      He should just go for an Internet ID card. Works for China, apparently.

  7. Christoph Silver badge

    This 'age verification' is of course nothing whatever to do with making sure that everyone is identifiable and can be tracked.

  8. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    A smart kid (which is most of them)

    will just use a VPN to appear out of the UK.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A smart kid (which is most of them)

      vpn? to stream videos (which is the thing)? Presumably paid for with their parents' cards? ;)

      1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

        Re: A smart kid (which is most of them)

        Tor? They've heard of it.

        Don't think a credit card is needed AC.

  9. thondwe

    Kids have already lied to get on...

    And most kids have accounts before they are 13 (secondary school pressure) on which they've already lied about their age because 13 is the US minimum...

  10. Neil Alexander

    "For an adult I wouldn’t want to restrict the amount of time you are on a platform but for different ages it might be right to have different time cut-offs"

    I think these days schools are making much more of an effort to teach children about online dangers and social media, and perhaps it's even working! On the other hand, adults seem to be too busy trying to climb the ladder in a global popularity contest to care.

    I deleted my Facebook account over two years ago now and my primary motivation for doing so was that my adult "friends" are completely and utterly insufferable on social media. I feel like a lot of the "think of the children" attitude is just projecting.

  11. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

    The horse...

    ...has already bolted.

  12. SVV Silver badge

    Some more flaws

    for Matt "back of an envelope ideas" Hancock MP to consider. Firstly you can only get a credit card if you're 18 or over as far as I am aware, so that would mean all UK children not being allowed onto all these sites (the list of those which need controlling will of course grow at an exponential rate as lots of proxy type sites spring up to circumvent things, and tabloid newsapers go into overdrive identifying "shocking new threats to our children on the internet" every day). Secondly, if you haven't got the good credit history needed to get a card, well I suppose it's goodbye internet for you un-prosperous scum. Same thing if you don't want to pay for one too I suppose.

    The only thing we can guarantee is that these sort of ideas will completely fail to keep kids off the places he wants them to be kept off, make life a pain for the entire adult poupulation online (businesses also), and be the start of the famed slipery sloe towards full on government censorship that we know in their heart of hearts they would love to impose. And that they'll have the nerve to keep blathering on about wanting the UK to be a "hotbed of tech innovation" as they screw it all up, invest nothing to make it so and the rest of the world laughs.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Some more flaws

      What's really unfortunate about the picture you paint, is that all the parties that would lke to govern the UK think the same way.

  13. Peconet57

    Matt Hancock does not know where the switch to his router and electrics are.

    It does seem that the UK Minister of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock does not know where the switch to his router and electrics are, he would like other companies to to do the switching on/off for him. Why are some people becoming lazy now-a-days?

    1. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

      Re: Matt Hancock does not know where the switch to his router and electrics are.

      Which router is thst?

      The one in the cell tower for the mobile phones?

  14. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

    "No details were given on how the scheme would work"

    No surprise there.

    Just make the legislation and someone else can sort out the boring bits..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "No details were given on how the scheme would work"

      To be fair he's just giving user requirements. If we implement the users designs instead of satisfying their requirements we get shite. AC cos that's how they do it at my place!!

      1. Dwarf Silver badge

        Re: "No details were given on how the scheme would work"

        To be fair he's just giving user requirements.

        A users requirements vs validated user requirements are very different.

        Can we have the login box in 36 point curly text with that 'ants' walking line around the outside of it, since it will look different.

  15. damocles

    Good idea but ...

    Can we extend the ban to all ages and make it 24/7?

    Thanks

  16. Oengus Silver badge

    What does this prove?

    No details were given on how the scheme would work, but it may involve extending a law requiring pornographic websites to ensure that users are over 18, by means of a credit card.

    I have never been able to workout how providing "credit" card details proves that anyone is over 18. I know children that have their own debit cards that look/act like credit cards on-line. I know of children who have accessed their parent's card details to access sites or purchase on-line. I know of parents who have setup devices with their card details for their children.

    Most sites I have seen that use credit cards as "adult verification" are scams.

    The best form of ensuring that children "unplug" themselves is proper adult supervision... but that seems to be too much like hard work for most parents today. They would rather just give the child a "digital pacifier"...

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. bugalugs

    It's been fashionable here to bag facebook

    I've even done my share.

    But if you take a closer look

    That isn't really fair.

    Yes the users data's used

    That is how it works

    For free and all without that

    we'd be paying for the perks.

    Like free communication, text and video,

    To catch up with the rellies

    And others you may know.

    Like the chance to publish stuff

    That's been sitting in a drawer,

    And get your friends opinions

    To take on or ignore.

    And as for kids participation

    Think they have no imagination ?

    They'll go on-line as they please,

    We all know that it's done with ease.

    and the Minister should too !

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