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June, 2024

Peter Dutton backs campaign to raise the age of social media citizenship as 36 Months petition exceeds 100k signatures

The leader of the opposition has thrown his support behind a campaign to get teens off social media, pledging to raise the minimum age for Australian teens to join social media from 13 to 16 within the first 100 days of government if elected.

“I would put it at the top of my list for the first 100 days in government, so within the first three months we would introduce it. It reflects the community values and where the view is for the vast majority of Australians at the moment. I honestly can’t understand an argument against putting in place sensible measures,” said Peter Dutton, the leader of the coalition.

It comes as the ’36 Months’ petition, initiated by NOVA’s Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli and Rob Galluzzo, CEO of production house FINCH, has reached 100,000 signatures from members of the public. The campaign proposes that the additional 36 months are used to educate and empower teenagers, build their self-esteem and resilience, and establish a robust cyber safety framework with a set of applicable skills for when they join social media at 16.

Dutton’s commitment comes in response to growing concerns about online sexual solicitation and abuse experienced by teens worldwide. According to data from the Global Child Safety Institute Childlight, in partnership with the UNSW Sydney and University of Edinburgh, 12.5% of teens worldwide (302M+) have experienced online sexual solicitation and abuse. In the US, one in nine men (10.9%, equating to almost 14M) and 7.5% of Australian men have admitted to online sexual offending against children.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and NSW Premier Chris Minns have also shown support for the petition. “I’m very supportive of the work that is taking place and I would encourage people to go to,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“The masses have spoken and the government must now raise the age for social media citizenship from 13 to 16,” said Wipfli. “As fathers, Rob and I launched 36 Months as a social initiative to highlight the desperate need for change and a place for concerned parents to turn. With this overwhelming support, Australia can play a leading role globally.”

“We need to utilise those extra 36 months to educate and empower our teenagers, build their self-esteem, compassion and resilience through real life experiences and a solid sense of belonging. With the right framework, this time can help them understand cyber safety with a set of applicable skills should they choose to join social media when they turn 16. Let’s give our teenagers an extra 36 months for them to get to know themselves, before the rest of the world does,” said Galluzzo.

This week automotive company Hyundai became the first brand to publicly commit to the 36 months initiative.

Speaking on an episode of Mi3’s Audio Edition, Galluzzo said he was hopeful that other brands would follow in its steps.

“It has to be right for the brand, their values and their ambition. But I’m certain they’re all going to jump on board. Because the question is simply, if we create this space, how do you want to show up?” he said.