RCPsych responds to passing of Online Safety Bill

Statement / comment
21 September 2023

The Online Safety Bill has been sent for Royal Assent after completing its passage through Parliament.

Welcoming passing of the legislation, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Professor Bernadka Dubicka from the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:

“We are very pleased the Online Safety Bill has finally completed the legislative process and will soon become law across the UK. The Bill is an important first step in creating an online world that is safe for children and young people. For the Bill to achieve its objectives, Ofcom must now be provided with the tools and resources it needs to enforce these new laws. We will continue to monitor to see if the Bill’s inventions are effective as new evidence emerges.

“It is more than three years since the College published our report on technology use and the mental health of children and young people. During this time, our concerns about the influence of online content on mental health have only grown.

“While the Bill is a welcome first step, it must be part of a wider strategy to protect children and young people online. We would urge the Government to look at the harms from loot boxes, for example, which often target children and risk exposing them to a highly-addictive form of gambling with severe financial consequences, heightened by the current cost-of-living crisis.

“We would also like to see social media companies compelled to share more of their data with independent researchers so we can develop a better understanding of the relationship between online activity and mental health.”

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