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‘I wouldn’t have been mentally able to handle the impact’: Wippa fights to raise social media age limit

Michael “Wippa” Wipfli is campaigning to increase the age at which children are introduced to social media from 13 to 16. Currently, most platforms restrict signups with a date of birth showing the person to be under 13. However, this is easily skirted, and lazily enforced.

The campaign is called 36 Months, representing the three years of crucial development between 13 and 16 that should be spent away from social media. 36 Months advocates, such as Wipfli, want a law passed to enforce this age restriction, much like with cigarettes or alcohol.

Wipfli told Fear & Greed the passing of such a law would be “an investment in the future for our kids”, saying, “at least it would give the power back to the parents. You’d be able to sit there as a parent and say, ‘No, you don’t do that because it’s the same as robbing a bank or, I don’t know, shooting a gun. You don’t do that because it’s illegal, guys.’

“And now that it’s been, you know, so long — a good 10, 15 years of data — now’s the time to pull the trigger on it, and be brave enough and, as a Government have the guts to say, ‘We now have the data that says this does not work’,” he continues.

“Social media has its place. Absolutely. Smartphones have their place. That’s not a war against social media or smartphones. It’s a war against trying to preserve our kids’ mental health in those ages of 13 to 16.”

Wipfli is hopeful the government will get onboard.

“[NSW] Premier [Chris] Minns came out and said something needs to be done, which was great. So we continue that conversation. The Prime Minister also congratulated 36 Months as an initiative worth following. You know, even though even on a corporate front, we had Hyundai join us the other day. They put their hand up. They’ve got a program which is called Progress for Humanity. And that certainly aligns with what we’re doing at 36 months.

“So we’re encouraging people to go to 36months.com.au to sign the petition, but also we’ve been encouraging people on Instagram, and I do see the irony, we’re encouraging them to post a photo of when they were 13.

“And that’s a great reality check, because you look back at that photo, and I certainly know the age of 13 for who I was as I stood there in my Hard Rock Cafe T -shirt at a tennis lesson, I know that I wouldn’t have been mentally able to handle the impact and the challenge that social media can bring on young minds.”

Check out 36months.com.au

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