Tech Firms Told to Hide ‘Toxic’ Content from Children

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Regulators Crack Down on Social Media and Gaming Companies

A tech company focuses on researching, developing, manufacturing, and supporting tech tools. Depending on the company, they might produce computer hardware, develop software, or create apps. Tech companies may also create online products and services from streaming networks to e-commerce platforms.

In a major crackdown on the tech industry, regulators have ordered social media platforms and gaming companies to shield children from harmful and toxic content online. The new rules, which come into effect next month, require firms to identify and remove age-inappropriate material that could negatively impact young users’ wellbeing.

“For too long, tech giants have prioritized engagement and profits over the safety of children,” said the head of the Online Safety Commission. “This ends now. We’re putting the onus on these companies to clean up their act and protect the mental health of an entire generation.”

Under the regulations, platforms must:

  • Conduct regular audits to identify potentially harmful or toxic content
  • Implement robust age verification systems to prevent underage access
  • Provide clear and accessible reporting tools for users to flag issues
  • Ensure algorithms do not recommend or amplify toxic content to children

Failure to comply could result in hefty fines of up to 10% of global revenue or criminal charges for executives. The rules apply to any online service likely to be accessed by children, including social media, gaming, messaging, and video platforms.

Industry groups have pushed back, arguing the regulations are too broad and will stifle innovation. But child safety advocates say the measures don’t go far enough.

“Removing toxic content is a good first step, but we need to see fundamental changes to the business models that incentivize the spread of harmful material in the first place,” said the head of the Children’s Digital Rights Coalition.

The new rules come amid growing global concern over the impact of social media and online gaming on young people’s mental health. Recent studies have linked excessive screen time and exposure to toxic content to increased anxiety, depression, and body image issues in children and teens.

Regulators say the crackdown is just the beginning, with plans to expand the rules to cover a wider range of online harms in the coming years. For now, tech firms have until next month to get their houses in order and prove they can keep children safe online.

Based on the provided sources, here are some common online activities that parents should monitor to ensure their children’s safety and well-being:

  1. Digital Communications: Checking your child’s phone and laptop to review their conversations on apps like WhatsApp, Discord, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, or other platforms can help ensure appropriate interactions.
  2. Social Media Usage: Monitoring the accounts your child follows, who follows them, and their posts can help safeguard against potential risks and inappropriate content online.
  3. Search History: Keeping an eye on your child’s browsing history provides insights into the websites they visit and the content they consume, allowing parents to ensure it aligns with family values and boundaries.
  4. Streaming Content: Limiting and monitoring the shows and movies your child watches on streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, or others can help control the type of content they access.
  5. Gaming Activities: Researching the games your child plays, watching reviews, reading articles, and checking live gameplay can help ensure the games align with your views on appropriateness and safety.
  6. Online Interactions: Being aware of who your child interacts with online, including friends and strangers, and monitoring their conversations and activities on social media platforms is crucial to protect them from potential dangers.
  7. Digital Footprint: Searching for your child’s digital footprints online, including social media profiles and other online information, can provide insights into their online presence and activities.
  8. Parental Controls: Using parental control features on devices to restrict access to certain apps, games, and websites, as well as setting time limits on internet use, can help manage and monitor your child’s online activities.
  9. Media Consumption: Actively engaging with the media your child uses, testing apps and games before they use them, and watching content together can facilitate discussions about what they see and ensure appropriateness.
  10. Educational Conversations: Talking to your child about safe online practices, appropriate behavior, and what should and should not be shared online is essential for guiding their digital behavior and promoting online safety.

By monitoring these common online activities, parents can play a proactive role in protecting their children from potential online risks and fostering a safe and responsible digital environment.

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