Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden has not denied reports that the UK Government is considering a ban on the use of social media by under-16s.

Last week, there were reports of a consultation on online safety laws planned in the New Year which will ask for views on new internet restrictions for teens.

This could mean, at the very least, parents’ permission before they could set up an account on sites such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

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Asked about it on the Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips programme on Sky News, Oliver Dowden said: “You’ll have to wait for announcements in that area.

“I don’t think we’ve actually made a formal policy announcement.”

He added: “What I do think, and I saw this when I was digital secretary, and I see it speaking to my constituents and elsewhere, there’s a real worry from parents about how they can protect their children from the harms of social media.

“Now, of course, as a Conservative, I don’t want to reach for a lever of banning, but we need to look at how we can protect children online, and I think any reasonable government should do that.”

Science minister Andrew Griffith last week said it was about a “consultation that is rumoured to happen in the new year” and called it only “speculation”.

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A recent poll in the US found that nearly half of all teens say they use the internet "almost constantly."

The Pew Research Centre survey found that roughly 9 out of 10 fo 13-17 years olds use YouTube, making it by far the most popular social media channel for teens, with 71% of them use it once a day. 

Most teens use TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram, but use of Facebook and Twitter is on the wane. 

Most sites currently allow children aged 13 and over to have accounts. 

Last week, the National Crime Agency warned parents against allowing their children on Facebook after Meta, the firm behind the social media giant, to introduce encrypted messaging.

The agency said the decision, which means the firm can  no longer see what its users are sharing,  would allow child abusers to groom children and paedophiles to share sexual images of children.