It’s Time To Protect Children From Big Tech Companies

Technology has always changed how people live and created demand for new rules and regulations. But in the digital age new laws are urgently needed to protect the next generation of young people.

The Digital Economy

The advance of the digital economy is changing the business world and people’s lives in virtually every sphere of activity. Big tech companies are driving the shift to digital, as they invest vast sums of money to control a new landscape. But new laws need to be shaped by governments rather than tech companies, as they will only act in their own interest. In addition, people should be encouraged to build real relationships in the real world rather than spend endless hours gathering digital likes in the digital world.   

Big tech companies argue for the freedom to make their own rules and amass profits without the nuisance of external impositions or restrictions. At every opportunity they resist legislation and see governments as bureaucratic entities that fail to understand their missionary zeal to connect the world in their image. But there is an emerging commitment by governments and other international bodies to listen to the concerns of those who care about the mental and physical health of the next generation. The issues of concern include privacy, data protection, child protection, cyber-security, cyber-bullying and the addictive design of products aimed at children. During the early years of the internet a small number of companies made fortunes and employed the best brains in the world, not to do good as is often proclaimed but to produce highly addictive services. Such products have a corrosive effect on young people, as their independence of thought is undermined by the addictive nature of the designs. There is however a mounting recognition that regulation is vital to mitigate the effects of many services deployed by companies at the vanguard of the digital revolution.

Time for change

The needs of customers rather than companies must be placed centre stage to protect young people. This is not currently the case as tech companies serve their own agenda by producing products that undermine people’s free will and choice. In the adult population such an approach leads to its own difficulties but with children they are magnified to a toxic and dangerous extent. The wonder and worry of technology invades everything we do and will continue its advance at an accelerated pace. But the current version of digital technology brings a tremendous level of menace, as the balance of power lies with big tech rather than customers or governments.

So, it’s time for big tech companies to stop the false promise of self-regulation and for governments to introduce laws that hold them to account and protect the common good.