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Prince Harry: ‘We need new laws’ to protect children online

AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file

Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is calling for new legislation to address child online safety so kids aren’t treated as “digital experiments.”

“I’ve learned that without meaningful change to the way we hold technology accountable and approach to designing technology in the future, we will not be able to stop our kids from being subjected to addictive products where they are exposed to content they should never see and experience and should never have to go through,” the 37-year-old member of the British royal family said Monday.

“Technology will continue to shape all our futures, which is why we must rewrite the rules of engagement when it comes to the way we design and experience it,” Harry said.

Harry’s remarks came during a virtual event from the 5Rights Foundation to launch a Global Child Online Safety Toolkit, which it described as a “roadmap for policymakers and practitioners building a digital world that supports children and enables them to flourish, online and beyond.”

“We need new laws, like the laws that 5Lives is working on to shape in the [United Kingdom], the [European Union] and here in California. We need public pressure. We need strong leadership. And we need continued research into what some of the biggest companies in the world are hiding behind closed doors,” Harry said.

“It shouldn’t have to take a whistleblower or other disturbing revelations to learn what social media companies have known for a very long time: That their platforms are designed at the expense of young people,” continued the Archewell Foundation co-founder, a father of two.

Leaked documents last year from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen indicated that the social media platform knew Instagram was harmful to some of its younger users.

Harry said he and wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, were “concerned” about their children being among “the next generation growing up in a world where they are treated as digital experiments for companies to make money and where things like hatred and harm are somehow normalized.”

Harry and Meghan have become increasingly vocal on hot-button issues since stepping down as full-time working members of the royal family in 2020 and moving to California.

“None of us wants a world where children continue to be targeted and are fed dangerous content, rather than be able to learn, play and connect freely and safely,” Harry said. “We want our children and all children to feel empowered to speak up and call for change when older generations are not capable of seeing or choose to ignore all the ways new technology is shaping society.”

Saying it’s a “critical moment,” Harry noted that the digital world is “an amazing tool,” but can also be a place where “there is so much negativity and there’s so much bad that comes from it.”

“The young people I talk to keep telling me that the online world is causing them harm — from immense pressure and digital addiction, to loneliness and anxiety over their body image and bullying,” he said.

“It will take all of us working together to listen and respond, so that every child can grow up in a digital age that allows them to thrive.”

Tags Archewell kids' online safety online safety Prince Harry

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