July 2021

New research shows ‘children’ directly targeted with graphic content within as little as 24 hours of creating a social media account

5Rights Foundation and the Children’s Commissioner for England are calling for mandatory rules for design of digital services after new 5Rights research shows online accounts registered to children being targeted with sexual and suicide content. 

The research undertaken in partnership with research agency, Revealing Reality establish pathways between the design of digital services and the risks children face. It shows services such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are allowing children, some as young as 13 years old, to be directly targeted within 24 hours of creating an account with a stream of harmful content.

Ian Russell, Founder, Molly Rose Foundation said: “This valuable report details how safety is routinely overlooked in the design of tech platforms that prioritise profit, with young users’ safety scarcely considered. Shockingly, Pathways demonstrates how algorithmic amplification actively connects children to harmful digital content, sadly as I know only too well, sometimes with tragic consequences.

“The report also reveals how young people feel about their online lives and how their offline lives are correspondingly altered. In our digital wilderness, young people need curated pathways to explore, allowing them to roam while remaining safe. Routes to trusted areas of support, especially in connection to mental health, should be better signposted so help can be provided whenever it is needed.

“All of us, governments, corporations, and individuals need to move fast to mend all things digital. We must find ways to weed out online harms and cultivate the good, if our digital world is to flourish as it should. Above all, we must prioritise safety, especially for children when online. We must work to prevent digital wolves, seeking out the vulnerable and destroying young lives.”

Full report: To access the full 5Rights report please Click Here

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