Teachers, MPs and online safety campaigners have accused Meta of being “highly irresponsible” over child safety after it lowered the minimum age for its messaging application WhatsApp from 16 to 13.

Meta was urged to reverse the decision over concerns the messaging app was fostering cyberbullying, sleep deprivation and harmful content among children. The change affects users in the UK and EU from yesterday.

Backed by experts and politicians, the campaign group Smartphone Free Childhood called on Meta, which also owns Facebook, to reverse a move it called “tone deaf”.

Separately, a member of the Commons education select committee said the “unilateral decision” was reckless.

Daisy Greenwell, a co-founder of Smartphone Free Childhood, told The Times: “WhatsApp is putting shareholder profits first and children’s safety second.

"Reducing their age of use from 16 to 13 years old is completely tone deaf and ignores the increasingly loud alarm bells being rung by scientists, doctors, teachers, child safety experts, parents and mental health experts alike."

WhatsApp said that it lowered the age limit to bring it in line with the majority of countries around the world and added that it had protections, such as the ability to block someone who messages you for the first time.

FTSE 100

The UK's flagship share index, the FTSE 100, was up 61-points at 7,985 shortly after opening this morning.

Brent crude oil futures were down 0.57%, trading at $89.96 a barrel.

Companies reporting today

There are no FTSE 350 companies reporting today.

More like this…

View all