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RCN backs newspaper campaign to protect children online

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The Royal College of Nursing has become one of three royal colleges to back a new campaign by a national newspaper to protect children using social media.

The RCN has joined the Royal College of Psychologists and the Royal College of Physicians in supporting the Daily Telegraph’s campaign that aims to provide bullet proof protection for parents and children from online harms

 “If duties of care for children exist in the offline world, they should exist in the online world too”

Fiona Smith

Under the campaign, the newspaper is calling for social media companies to sign up to a statutory duty of care that will force them to protect children from grooming, bullying, suicide, self-harm or advertising that causes body image issues.

In addition, the campaign also calls for a proportion of company profits to be invested in protecting children and researching mental health.

While duty of care for children exists offline, the RCN said it should exist for the online world too.

According to an article by the Daily Telegraph, having the colleges demands for regulation in the form of statutory duty of care is significant because they represent the medical practitioners who deal with the consequences of children’s use of the internet and social media.

Fiona Smith, RCN professional lead for nursing children and young people, said: “If duties of care for children exist in the offline world, they should exist in the online world too.”

Royal College of Nursing

Fiona Smith

Fiona Smith

“Whether it be online bullying, grooming, violent imagery, or advertorial content that preys on young people’s vulnerabilities, social media firms need to understand that with hundreds of millions of pounds of profit comes a responsibility to ensure children are kept safe and healthy on their platforms,” she added.

The UK government is currently considering plans to regulate social media companies to prevent young people, in particular, from coming to harm.

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