The UK culture secretary, Matt Hancock is backing the introduction of laws to protect children online, but would stop short on legislating on the issue.
In a conversation with The Guardian, Hancock has admitted that ‘it’s very difficult to parent in the digital age,’ but has dismissed suggestions that the UK government should intervene more directly to control the exposure of children to new technology.
In France, a 2010 law has banned phones in school classrooms and the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has pushed to ban children under the age of 15 from use of phones on school premises at all.
In place of such legislation, Hancock has suggested that society needs time to become educated on how to implement the use of technology better.
“In some places, laws are required. In other places, it’s just that as a society we have to mature to make the most out of this technology, which is amazing and brilliant, rather than use it badly,” he said.
“I think it’s really hard to parent in the digital age. It’s one of the hardest times to be a parent because there’s this new technology that often the children understand better than the grownups. And there aren’t norms of how we use it.”
Hancock does back the belief that the internet needs regulating in other ways and has highlighted his plans to implement legislation that would force social media companies to take more responsibility for the content on their platforms.
He said that Britain ‘might go it alone’ if it was unable to establish an international coalition to support regulation.
“We don’t rule out legislation,” he added. “It is best if this approach is done internationally, but it doesn’t have to be. Because ultimately, we need more political accountability over an area of life where there is a huge amount of power in the hands of a small amount of people.”