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UK ministers consider banning sales of smartphones to under-16s

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UK ministers consider banning sales of smartphones to under-16s

Ministers are considering banning the sale of smartphones to children under 16 after several polls have shown significant public support for such a move.

The government issued guidelines on mobile phone use in English schools two months ago, but other restrictions are said to have been considered to better protect children after a series of campaigns.

Esther Ghey, the mother of 16-year-old Brianna, murdered last year, has been campaigning for an age limit on smartphone use and stricter controls on access to social media apps.

Ghey told the BBC in February: “We would like to see a law introduced so that there are mobile phones that are only suitable for under-16s… So if you are over 16 you can have an adult phone, but then minors under 16 years of age can have mobile phones. 16, you can have a kid’s phone, which won’t have all the social media apps that exist now.”

A March survey conducted by parents, of 2,496 parents of school-age children in England, found that 58% of parents believe the government should ban smartphones for under-16s. It also found that more than four in five parents said they felt smartphones were “harmful” to children and young people.

Another More in Common survey found that 64% of people thought banning the sale of smartphones to under-16s would be a good idea, compared to 20% who said it was a bad idea.

The restriction was even popular among Conservative voters in 2019, according to the think tank, which found 72% backed a ban, as did 61% of Labor voters.

But the idea of ​​another ban has left some conservatives uneasy. A Conservative government source described the idea as “out of touch” and said: “It’s not the government’s role to step in and microparent; Our goal is to make parents more aware of the powers they have, such as restrictions on websites, apps and even the use of parental control apps.”

They said that only in extreme cases could the government “parent better than actual parents and guardians.”

A government spokesman said: “We do not comment on speculation. “Our commitment to making the UK the safest place to be a child online is unwavering, as demonstrated by our landmark Online Safety Act.”

Rishi Sunak is already braced for a backlash to his plan to ban the next generation from buying cigarettes. Anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 (indeed anyone now aged 14 or under) will not be legally able to buy cigarettes in England during their lifetime, as the smoking age is raised by one year each year, subject to the approval of parliamentarians. according to plans first reported in The Guardian.

The policy was first announced at the Conservative Party conference last year. But New Zealand’s Conservative government has since said it will repeal the country’s own smoking ban policy.

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