Social media has undoubtedly become fully ingrained in our society, particularly among school-aged children. With phones being used within the classroom and playground activities having the ability to be quickly spread online, one education leader believes that social media companies should be better regulated to prevent the glorification of anti-social behaviour within the school gates.
Education expert, Dr Ryan Thomas Williams, believes that social media companies should be held responsible when it comes to their role in distributing and boosting content that can be deemed harmful – notably, recent videos around school fights.
Traditionally, when violent or disturbing clips are shared online, they can generate awareness around the issue. This awareness often leads to action, once parents and charities gain an insight into what children are doing online. However, there has been a recent trend of school fights being shared online which, rather than following raising awareness, is actively encouraging students to participate in the same behaviour themselves.
According to a government poll from 2022, 7 in 10 adults think that social media companies should do more to tackle harmful content. Dr Ryan Thomas Williams also believes that this should be the case and that action should go further than just having an independent regulator – like Ofcom – overseeing social media.
Speaking on this topic, Dr Ryan Thomas Williams says, “I would go one step further and encourage social media companies to obtain accreditation that proves they are regulated by an independent body, take part in audits to ensure they are following best practice to prevent harmful content shared. In other words, make it compulsory to prevent harm. They could display the badge somewhere on the site so that users know this social media company is ‘safe and accredited’ and another one isn’t. All monies raised through this accreditation can go to the victims.”
Despite social media playing an important role in all of our lives, public trust in these platforms is staggeringly low. With many education leaders agreeing that the current controls are not going far enough to curb the increase in violent content on these platforms, it’s important that further regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of children online and at school.
To find out more about Dr Williams, follow him on Twitter: @WilliamsR_T