A child plays with a mobile phone. R. C.
All mobile phones in Spain will have to come with free parental controls to protect children under new law

All mobile phones in Spain will have to come with free parental controls to protect children under new law

Electronic devices - including tablets, computers and televisions - will need to include an effective control system to prevent minors from accessing harmful content

Alfonso Torices


Tuesday, 4 June 2024, 17:33


All mobile phones, tablets, computers and televisions sold in Spain will need to include an effective and free parental control system under a new law.

This will happen when the Spanish parliament approves the law for the protection of minors in digital environments, with the draft bill expected to be debated this Tuesday before being approved in Congress and the Senate. The ministries of youth, digital transition and the presidency and justice were in the bill in a bid to help parents or guardians take measures to protect minors from the risks of devices and surfing the internet, chat rooms and social media.

The law will oblige all manufacturers and providers to include this protection system, which has to offer its activation by default in the initial configuration process of the device, as happens for example with languages. In this way, all parents, regardless of their financial means or abilities, will be the ones to decide whether or not to activate this protection and what limitations on the use of the device and the internet they impose on their children. Its configuration should be user-friendly and accessible to the majority.

The parental control device forms a protective triangle with the duty of providers to use an effective age verification system to provide access to adult content (pornography, gambling or violent content, among others) and with their also new obligation to label, with clear information and simple language, all inappropriate content for minors as well as to publicise the risks for these young people of their products and functions. These obligatory alerts will facilitate bans on websites, apps, forums, networks or functionalities that parents can carry out through parental control.

Digital literacy

The draft bill includes the safe use and enjoyment of the digital environment as a right of all Spanish children and the implementation of a national strategy for the digital protection of children, with short, medium and long-term measures, most of which will come from the proposal the group of 50 experts will release this month. Some of the pillars will be a digital literacy programme, to be taught from primary school, to give children tools for protection and detection of fake news, or measures and protocols for early detection of suspected situations of digital addiction of children from primary care.

The measures in the draft bill, among other reasons, are justified by the preliminary diagnosis of the serious situation in Spain regarding the relationship between minors and the digital world drawn up by the ministry of youth, led by Sira Rego, on the basis of the initial contributions made by the group of experts set up under her impetus last March.

The report highlighted that the average age of a child who receives their first mobile phone is already 11 years old, a smartphone that has an internet connection in the case of 95% of adolescents and browsing that they use on a daily basis. Half of the children use the internet for more than five hours on weekends and up to 32% spend the same amount of time on this activity on a daily basis. Almost all teenagers are registered in some social media and 83% are registered in three or more.

One of the many worrying figures provided by this analysis is that 40% of minors have received unwanted messages or images with sexual content and that up to 25% of this interference or harassment is carried out by an adult.

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