Prince William has admitted his fears of children using social media and the internet, saying that for many family, phones have "shattered the sanctity and protection of the home". William was visiting the BBC with his wife Kate to mark Anti-Bullying Week when he gave a speech about the dangers of the web. The Prince revealed that he convened the Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying after becoming a new dad to Prince George.
"I saw that my friends and peers were worried about the risks of the very powerful tools we were putting in our children's hands," said William. "For too many families, phones and social media shattered the sanctity and protection of the home. As we grappled with this, we felt a distinct absence of guidance. Should we read our children's messages? Should we allow them to have phones and tablets in their rooms? Who do we report bullying to? We were making up the rules as we went along."
Kate and William paid a visit to the BBC
William acknowledged the positives of social media – being able to share personal excitement, reconnect with long-lost friends and discover music, film and books among other subjects. But the Prince also highlighted the negatives – that social media can be used to organise violence, for fake news and conspiracy to "pollute the public sphere", for speech to be filled with "bile and hate" and, in particular among children, for bullies to "follow their targets even after they have left the classroom or the playing field".
The father-of-three called for more work to be done to make the online world "safer and happier for our young people". William admitted that he underestimated the scale of the challenge; "I may have been too ambitious," he said. The royal concluded by saying technology companies "still have a great deal to learn about the responsibilities that come with their significant power".
The Duchess looked lovely in an Emilia Wickstead dress
He urged tech giants to connect with each other to come up with solutions, and show humility and transparency to their users. "Surely you can partner with parents to make the online world a safe place of discovery, friendship, and education for their children," William said. "You can work in the interest of the children and parents who use your products and still make your shareholders happy. We not only want you to succeed. We need you to."
During the visit to the BBC, William and Kate saw the work the broadcaster is doing as a key member of William's Taskforce. The couple met young people who wrote and performed in a new campaign video for Stop, Speak, Support, a youth-led code of conduct to provide guidance on what to do when they witness bullying online.
The Taskforce supports young people and their families affected by cyberbullying, with a focus on 11 to 16-year-olds. Companies including Apple, Google, Facebook and Snapchat are working alongside a panel of young people to create a safer online world.
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