‘Like giving them crack cocaine!’ WhatsApp blasted as lower age limit sparks child safety concerns

‘Like giving them crack cocaine!’ WhatsApp blasted as lower age limit sparks child safety concerns

WATCH NOW: GB News panel reacts to WhatsApp age limit reduction

GB News
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 12/04/2024

- 14:00

WhatsApp has been widely criticised after reducing its age limit from 16 to 13

Director of the Common Sense Society Emma Webb has slammed messaging platform WhatsApp, after their parent company Meta announced they are reducing the age limit for the app from 16 to 13 years old.

The change, which came into affect on Thursday, was announced by the company in a blog post that stated the move was to "ensure a consistent minimum age requirement for WhatsApp globally".

Conservative MP and member of the education select committee Vicky Ford said the decision by Meta was "highly irresponsible".

Discussing the change, commentator Amy Nickell-Turner admitted she "didn't know there was an age limit", and often receives "WhatsApps from her 12 year old nephew".

Emma Webb and stock image of teenager on smartphone

Emma Webb has hit out at the messaging company for lowering their age limit to 13

GB News / Getty

Nickell-Turner defended the decision, noting: "This brings it in line with TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Snapchat. So I can't really see all the hysteria.

"A 13 year old could go on all the other platforms, but not WhatsApp?"

GB News host Ben Leo was in disagreement with Nickell-Turner, and argued that "some adults shouldn't be accessing these apps, let alone young kids".

Nickell-Turner highlighted that one of the recommendations of the Online Safety Bill, put forward by the government, was to "remove the private chat encryption", and suggested that WhatsApp could implement this as a way to "make it safer for kids".

WhatsApp logo

WhatsApp has been widely criticised after reducing its age limit from 16 to 13


Ben shut down Nickell-Turner's suggestion and raged that it would "take away your rights and some of your privacy for the greater good".


Emma Webb was in agreement with Ben, telling GB News: "Don't unencrypt the app and violate an adult's privacy, just so children can use the app. Don't let children use the app.

"I have quite a strong view on this, and I don't think that any young person should be on any of these social media sites."

Webb continued: "There is increasing evidence that shows that this is extremely bad for young people's mental health, particularly when they're at a younger age.

"They're basically being inducted into socialisation through this infinite space, where they're being effectively taught to socialise by strangers. It's like having a window into your daughter's bedroom."

Emma Webb

Webb said the move was like 'giving children crack cocaine'

GB News

Host Pip Tomson said social media is "such a breeding ground" for online bullying, and "person to person bullying at school can be horrific", but now has the added pressure of online apps such as WhatsApp.

Webb called for a "collective" approach to tackling online pressures for young people, including "banning smartphones in high schools".

Webb said: "Everybody needs to be in this together. It's not going to work if just one parent stops their child from doing it, because you need all of the parents to do it so that it eliminates the overall pressure to be involved.

"It's simply not an argument that it's for communication, because you can give the child a dumb phone. They do not need to be on these social media apps. It's bad for them. It's like giving them crack cocaine."

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