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Sweden will set age limit for using social media

Updated fredag 29 januari 2016 kl 12.00
Published fredag 29 januari 2016 kl 08.48
"Monitoring children isn't making them safer."
(3:38 min)
Konsumentminister Per Bolund (MP) om åldersgräns på sociala medier Foto: TT
Consumer Affairs Minister Per Bolund (MP). Photo: TT

To meet the deadline for an EU directive, in two years Sweden will need to choose an age limit under which children would need their parent's consent to begin using social media sites. The change might mean a parent would have to consent to the terms of service when their child starts an account on sites like Facebook or Instagram.

Speaking with Swedish Television Thursday, Minister for Consumer Affairs Per Bolund said the age limit could be between 13 and 16 years of age.

"The regulation at the EU level says it will be 16 as a limit with the ability to go down to 13 as a limit. It's a binding regulation, so Sweden will end up somewhere there," he told SVT.

The government will appoint a commission to investigate where exactly the age limit will be set.

In an e-mail to news agency TT Friday morning Bolund said Sweden is being forced to investigate an age limit before which children would need permission from their parents to begin using social media. The Green Party, he said, would prefer 13 years of age, at the lowest end of the range stipulated by the EU.

"As the Consumer Affairs Minister I think it's important to see more parent involvement in the use of social media," he wrote in the e-mail, but added that both himself and the government "don't want to see fewer young people using social media."

Elza Dunkels, an Internet researcher at the University of Umeå, criticized the age limit to TT.

"There's been no analysis of what the consequences might be, and for children it could be a catastrophe," she said.

If the age limit were set at 16, said Dunkels, it would mean that relatively adult individuals would not be able to make important decisions themselves.

"You wouldn't be taking into account children's rights, and in this regard we'd being traveling back in time," said Dunkels.

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