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European Bill May Keep Teens off Social Media

Huffington Post
The EU has been trying to hammer out the General Data Protection Regulation since 2012, but various amendments and blockages have kept it at bay. Most of the serious work has taken place in the past year, and it's looking like the GDPR will finally be coming into effect at the beginning of 2016. In these final moments though, something unsettling has emerged.

A new amendment proposal has surfaced, one which could see teens of 16 and under banned from social media unless they have parental consent. The notion appears to be that such strict parameters will lower the likelihood of cyber-bullying. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people disagree with that notion, and news of the amendment has whipped up a storm of controversy.



Most of the criticism has emanated from Twitter, not only from teens themselves but also many adults who recognise the value of social media for teenagers. Many people make mention of the fact that social media really helped them in their teens, and that a lot of minority groups rely on it for communication and support. There are statistics to back this up, research presented by the Social Psychology Bulletin last year shows that loneliness among teens is actually decreasing, and that social media plays a role in that.

Cyber-bullying has continued to gain ground since it first reared its ugly head at the end of the 90s, but keeping teens away from social media isn't going to counteract it. Bullies aren't made by social media, it's just the most direct means of attack at their disposal, take it away and they'll find something else, be it texting, email or carrier pigeon.



More to the point, teens who are part of the LGBTQ community are actually more at risk without social media than they are with it. Facebook, Reddit and other platforms house a litany of support groups so that teens can actually talk about their issues with like-minded people, something they might not necessarily find in their homes or at school, if they're even willing to discuss those issues there. You know what they would be likely to find at school? Bullies. Even if they keep their issues to themselves, bullies prey on kids who stay guarded or try and keep their heads down, and without anyone to actually speak to, that withdrawal is only going to intensify.

This is only one of many issues with this kind of amendment. Which social media platforms are you going to ban teens from? Does Instagram count? Tumblr? How are you going to negotiate the ban with service providers, or even the platforms themselves?  There's absolutely no guarantee that the amendment will pass, and the increasing push-back on Twitter might well ensure that it doesn't, but it's emblematic of just how far out of touch the EU are with modern technology and youth culture.



Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF


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European Bill May Keep Teens off Social Media Reviewed by Callum Davies on Monday, December 14, 2015 Rating: 5

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