Social media firms face £18m fines if they send children notifications at

The charity proposes a simple traffic light style labelling of red, amber and green which would tell parents and children which products had the most compulsive or addictive features and also which offered the highest levels of privacy.It wants strict curbs on the social media firms’ ability to collect and use children’s data not only to protect their privacy but also “reduce the incentive” to deploy features that keep children online.Firms would be required to delete all information when a child left a site. “Children should be given repeated and frequent offers to delete the data they have created, including on logging in, logging out and at predetermined intervals,” says the charity.It argues that firms’ use of profiling of children to target products at them should be banned unless it can shown to be in the child’s best interests. Geolocators which are used by the firms to track children but can also give away a child’s location to a potential predator should be switched off by default, and every time they log off.“When a child’s location is being tracked, it must be made obvious to the child,” says 5Rights. The charity also demands a re-write of the firms’ terms and conditions so they can be understood by a child with a reading age of nine, saying it is “cynical” of the firms to expect children to read them when most adults and experts do not. It even suggests the way firms operate in compelling children to read the conditions or be locked out of services may be illegal.“This raises the question of whether consent can be relied upon as a basis for lawful processing of children’s personal data,” says the charity.Last year it was Baroness Kidron’s amendment to the Digital Economy Act, backed by the government, the Tory peer Dido Harding, ex chief executive of TalkTalk, Lord Stevenson, a former adviser to Gordon Brown, and the LibDem Lord Clement Jones, which paved the way for the code. Social media firms face fines of up to £18m if they disturb children with notifications and alerts at night or during the school day under plans being considered by the information commissioner.Elizabeth Denham, the commissioner, is drawing up a new statutory code that will target strategies used by the firms to keep children online such as the timing of notifications and auto-play.Among the proposals is a ban on the social media giants posting messages, notifications or any alerts that disturb children’s sleep at night or distracts them during the school day.The firms could also be forced to set auto-play, notifications, buzzes, read receipts and non-specific alerts to “off” by default every time a child logged on so they would have to be reset them to prevent them becoming addicted to the technology.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––The plans have been submitted by 5Rights, a charity founded by filmmaker Baroness Kidron, which has been working with the commissioner and was instrumental in securing the legislation for the new code to prevent children’s personal data being exploited by the social media firms.There could also be automatic timeouts to limit children’s use of social media, save buttons so they are not forced to stay online to complete a task or game and “streak holidays” where they can escape features that require daily attention to keep up with friends. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. The commissioner warned the companies that she will be focusing on strategies used by sites and apps to “personalise a child’s experience to encourage them to stay online longer.”“We have to make sure the code is designed with children at its heart,” she said.This is expected to be underlined next week by research for her office that will confirm growing public concern at the impact of online harms from cyber-bullying and violence to the tactics of the social media firms to keep children online.The code, the consultation for which closes on September 19, is designed to ensure firms comply with the Digital Economy Act, which carries fines of up to £18m or 4% of global turnover for breaches.Baroness Kidron, whose films include Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, said one of today’s biggest health issues was the “epidemic of sleeplessness” among children from the compulsive nature of the technology which contributed to increased depression, anxiety and obesity.“If you ask any teacher what is the problem in your class, they will say that the kids are coming to school tired,” she told The Telegraph.“If you ask parents, it’s about pulling the device out of children’s hands in the night.” read more