Facebook and YouTube have been singled out for the ignominious title as the worst offenders for propagating sex, violence and suicide to children in a league table compiled by the NSPCC – matched only by the excesses found within the videogame Grand Theft Auto.
The children’s charity singled out the digital channels as chief culprits when it comes to exposing under-age internet users to inappropriate content such as bullying and trolling, prompting it to slap both firms down with an official ‘red warning’.
The findings were drawn from a survey of 4,000 parents and young people and come just hours after the UK government unveiled tough new laws designed to crackdown on social media firms, including fines incurred for any users found to be below the age of 13.
The charity categorised 14 games, social platforms and websites according to the prevalence of suicide, violence, cyberbullying, sexual content and other adult material such as drink or drugs – with Facebook and YouTube both earning a ‘high’ risk warning in every category.
A 16 year-old girl cited by the children’s charity said: “When you’re watching a video of something like a makeup artist, a video can be at the side of something completely different that could be sexual/hurtful or anything else. It’s easy to get yourself into a bad video.”
It is estimated that young people have a one in four chance of encountering dodgy content while browsing either platform, prompting culture secretary Matt Hancock to announce tougher laws to force change in the sector.