Ban smartphones for under-14s, says German government adviser | News | DW | 15.02.2019

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Ban smartphones for under-14s, says German government adviser

A German internet expert says children under 14 should be banned from using smartphones. She says the technology drastically raises their risk of exposure to damaging pornographic content.

Children should not be allowed to use smartphones before the age of 14 to help prevent them from coming into contact with harmful pornography at a young age, an adviser to the German government has said.

Children as young as nine were already looking at pornographic images and distributing videos of their peers masturbating, Julia von Weiler told newspapers of the Funke media group published on Friday.

"Just as we protect children from alcohol or other drugs, we should also protect them from the risks of using smartphones at too early an age," said von Weiler, who is also the director of the association "Innocence in Danger."

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'Younger and younger'

The growing number of such offenses involving children was also confirmed to the newspapers by police.

"The number of complaints to police in this area has grown considerably over the past years," said Judith Dobbrow from the state criminal investigations office in Berlin.

Dobbrow said police were going to a school every two weeks on average to investigate complaints.

"Now every child has a smartphone, the suspects are becoming younger and younger," she said.

The German government's abuse commissioner, Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, however, warned of looking for quick fixes.

"A law restricting the age for using smartphones would possibly be a quick and apparently simple solution," he said, but it would not solve the fundamental problem of there being inadequate protection on the internet itself.

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