Children to get jargon busting leaflets to improve online protection

Rebecca Williams, Sky Correspondent

Children will be offered simplified, jargon free leaflets explaining their rights on social media in a bid to provide them with better protection. 

The Children's Commissioner, who has produced the guides, says they are aimed at apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat.

With terms and conditions often being complicated - Instagram's alone is 17 pages long - many youngsters admit they ignore them and press accept, without knowing the true consequences.

The new "jargon busters" will highlight how much access some companies have to personal information, such as credit card details, your exact location and your contacts.

Some are even able to see how much battery you have left on your phone.

The leaflets will also advise people on how Snapchat can publically display or sell any content a young person puts on live or local Snapchat, which may feature their face or voice.

The simplified terms and conditions will be handed out to thousands of teachers up and down the country, in the hope that many students will have a better idea of their rights online.

At Brymore Academy in Somerset some were shocked to hear the type of information social media companies can gain access to.

Zadan Elmrabti, 15, told Sky News: "Terms and conditions are so long that you just click accept.

"So I think the idea that we will be able to read it and understand it is good. I didn't realise they could get credit card details because I didn't read the terms and conditions before."

His classmate, Ryhs Thomas said: "I'm not really surprised that they can access my location... I see social media sites as quite snakey and bad really."

There is mounting pressure for social media sites to better protect children.

Research by OFCOM found that three to four-year-olds' online use is just over eight hours a week, whilst for 12 to 15-year-olds it is more than 20 hours.

Of that age group 56% have an Instagram account.

Children's Commissioner, Anne Longfield, told Sky News: "I want the social media giants who dominate this world that so many children now live in to really take responsibility to be more transparent and to help children understand what they are signing up to.

"Now there is legislation coming in next year, new privacy legislation from Europe, which means they will have to do more to help anyone, but particularly young people understand what they are signing up to."

Facebook has said it wants everyone to feel safe and secure when using the site and insists it is working closely with safety experts to make sure children know how technology works and what they need to think about before sharing things on the internet.

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