The BC government has unveiled three new policies to keep children safe from online harm, one of which restricts cell phone use in BC classrooms.
In a press conference Friday, Premier David Eby addressed the issue of online safety for children, outlining the government’s new strategy to protect children.
The measures come a few months after the tragic passing of 12-year-old Carson Cleland from Prince George, who fell victim to online sexual extortion in November.
The new actions include implementing a cell phone restriction classroom, introducing new legislation to hold social media giants accountable for harm done on their platforms, and providing additional support for the immediate removal of illicit images from online platforms.
Eby emphasized that these measures are designed to assist parents and teachers navigate the challenges of technology monitoring, protecting children from exposure to unregulated internet content and social media pressures, particularly from cell phones.
“The impact of unregulated content and social media pressure on children in the classroom is significant. It disrupts the learning environment, interrupts the educational flow, and makes it challenging for students to regain focus. The collective influence of these factors extends beyond what individual families can manage on their own,” he said.
Enforcement of the new cell phone requirement will be the responsibility of the school district.
In addition to the cell phone restriction, the province has enacted new Public Harms legislation to hold social media companies responsible for exposing children to harm on their platforms.
Eby said it’s concerning that social media companies lack an interest in protecting children from harm.
“The legislation enables us to hold these companies accountable for the harm caused to our children through their addictive algorithms, which inundate our youth with a constant stream of extreme content linked to rising levels of anorexia, anxiety, and depression.”
To further support victims of online sexual extortion, the province has also introduced two services to help ensure the swift removal of illicit images online and aid victims in pursuing predators for damages.
The new measures come into effect Monday, January 29.