Young people potentially forced off social media by new Ofcom rules

Written by on 13th May 2024

Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat could be forced to ban users under 18 if they do not implement rules set out by Ofcom.

Ofcom have stated that although social media requires users to be over 13 years of age, children are regularly exposed to harmful content, such as posts promoting self-harm or violence while on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

The communications regulator recently published various guidelines that apps and sites should follow to protect young users of their platforms, these guidelines include new methods to remove harmful content, to make it simpler to report and remove harmful content, and to reduce how much of it young people see.

If tech companies do not follow these new guidelines Ofcom says it will implement changes to ban people under 18 from using social media altogether.

Award-winning Northeast-based counselling service Anxious Minds stated: “There are lots of younger people that shouldn’t be on platforms like Facebook who bypass the age limit, and it’s an issue when they see content and language that shouldn’t be used on social media”.

According to Ofcom, these changes will be put in place by late 2025 however it has been theorised that these proposed rules will be very difficult to implement in practice. Questions concerning safety and data breaches have also been made, as photo ID may be required to prove a user’s age.

When speaking to the BBC, Meta, the owner of Facebook, Instagram and other platforms stated they “already have extra protections for under 18s on their apps and sites”.

However, critics of these platforms argue that the current rules do not do a good enough job and do not go far enough when it comes to protecting children using these apps and believe that under the current system children are not being adequately protected.

UK charity Family Lives stated: “If you take something away from somebody, they’re going to want it more, and they’re going to get it one way or another, so the pressure is on the social media companies to make sure whatever is on their platforms is sensible”.

More information on the work done by Anxious Minds and Family Lives respectively can be found at and

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