Harry and Meghan call for urgent change to protect children on social media

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have called for urgent change to child safety on social media, saying the “best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe from these platforms”.

Harry and Meghan spoke out after the chief executives of Meta, TikTok, X and other social media giants gave evidence before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, in front of parents whose children suffered or died because of online harm.

In a statement on their Archewell website, the couple said the issue transcended division and party lines and this is “not the time to pass the buck of responsibility”.

Social Media
Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Harry and Meghan, who have been outspoken critics of the way social media firms handle child safety, said: “We applaud the bravery and determination of the thousands of parents around the country whose advocacy resulted in this hearing.

“Over the past few years we have spent time with many of these families, listening to their heartache and their hopes for the urgent change that is needed in the online space.

“This is an issue that transcends division and party lines, as we saw today at the Senate hearing. The best parenting in the world cannot keep children safe from these platforms.”

They added: “As one of the fathers shared with us: ‘If love could have saved them, all of our children would still be here’.

“This is not the time to pass the buck of responsibility. It’s the time to make necessary change at the source to keep our children safe.”

Harry and Meghan
Harry and Meghan issued a statement on online child safety (PA)

The statement was accompanied by a video of the couple at the Archewell Foundation Parents’ Summit, which focused on mental wellness in a digital age, in New York in October last year to mark World Mental Health Day.

They were seen speaking to and hugging parents who shared their experiences.

Meghan said: “When the car was first invented, there wasn’t a seatbelt. And what happened? People started to get hurt, people started to die. So you started to change the car.”

She added: “Everyone now is affected by the online world and social media. There was an entry point that’s positive in creating community, but we all just want to feel safe.”

The duke urged tech bosses to “stop sending children content you wouldn’t want your own children to see”.

“We need to get out of this idea that young kids, there’s something wrong with them. No, it’s the world that we’re allowing to be created around them,” he said.

Social Media
Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg turns to address parents during the Senate Judiciary Committee (Jose Luis Magana/AP)

“Please stop sending children content that you wouldn’t want your own children to see.”

The Archewell Foundation said it is working with families to provide a support network for those dealing with grief or those whose children have serious mental health conditions as a result of their exposure to harmful online content.

During the Congressional hearing on Wednesday, Republican senator Lindsey Graham told Mr Zuckerberg and other social media bosses: “I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that’s killing people.”

Mr Zuckerberg stood up at one point to address dozens of parents in the audience, some of whom held up pictures of teenagers who killed themselves following abuse on social media.

He told them: “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through.”

The Sussexes’ public statement comes at a time when the King and the Prince and Princess of Wales are all away from official engagements, as Charles recovers from treatment on an enlarged prostate and William cares for Kate as she recuperates from abdominal surgery.