Kids are being “blackmailed into stripping for strangers” via their smartphones, a distinguished Conservative MP has warned amid a debate on younger folks’s psychological well being.

Miriam Cates urged the federal government to “defend youngsters” from a “actual and current hazard” in a Westminster Corridor debate in parliament.

Ms Cates is without doubt one of the main voices behind a marketing campaign to ban smartphones for these beneath the age of 16.

She advised MPs: “This authorities does have lower than a 12 months left in workplace, but when we might go the Coronavirus Act (2020) in simply someday, certainly, certainly, we are able to use these subsequent few months to introduce efficient laws to guard youngsters from an actual and current hazard.”

Miriam Cates MP speaks during the Northern Research Group conference at Doncaster Racecourse. Picture date: Friday June 9, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
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Ms Cates, who co-chairs the New Conservatives group of backbench Tory MPs, stated: “Think about if it was a each day incidence for our youngsters to be propositioned for intercourse or blackmailed into stripping for strangers.

“Think about if each mistake your little one made was marketed on public billboards, so that everybody might chortle and mock till the disgrace made life not price residing.

“However this isn’t a horror film, this isn’t some imaginary Wild West, that is the digital world that our youngsters occupy, usually for hours a day.

“Our youngsters are usually not okay.”

Earlier this 12 months, the Penistone and Stocksbridge MP advised Rishi Sunak throughout Prime Minister’s Questions that he ought to take into account a ban on smartphones for under-16s for the sake of their psychological well being.

Ms Cates, a former instructor, stated on the time there had been a “marked enhance” in poor teenage psychological well being since 2010, and that it was “time to contemplate banning social media and even perhaps smartphones for under-16s?”

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Tory MP Miriam Cates requested Rishi Sunak if it was time to ban smartphones for under-16s.

Within the Westminster Corridor debate, Ms Cates in contrast the issues concerning the reported hyperlink between smartphones and poor psychological well being with the Intoxicating Liquors Act 1901, which ended the sale of alcohol to youngsters, and the Felony Legislation Modification Act 1885, which raised the feminine age of consent from 13 to 16.

“We are going to look again and ask why we allowed paedophiles, predators, grasping capitalists and international enemies unfettered entry to our youngsters on-line,” she stated.

Through the debate, different MPs raised their issues concerning the influence of smartphones and bullying on social media on youngsters, with SNP MP Alyn Smith referring to Murray Dowey, a 16-year-old boy in his Stirling constituency, who died by suicide after falling sufferer to “sextortion”.

Learn extra:
Brianna Ghey’s mum says cellphones ought to be made particularly for kids beneath 16
Smartphone use is an dependancy for 1 / 4 of kids – research reveals

Sextortion is a type of blackmail by which a toddler is tricked into sending sexual photographs of themselves to abusers, who then threaten to share the photographs with mates, household or extra broadly on the web if they aren’t paid cash.

Labour MP Sir Chris Bryant known as for “many extra psychological well being professionals into colleges”, including: “Social media I feel has turbocharged a few of the worst facets of humanity.”

Final 12 months, parliament handed the On-line Security Act which requires tech companies to “forestall youngsters from accessing dangerous and age-inappropriate content material and supply mother and father and kids with clear and accessible methods to report issues on-line after they do come up”, in line with the federal government.

Greater than 24,000 folks have to date signed a petition calling on the federal government to ban smartphones and digicam telephones for under-16s.

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