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16th Feb 2024

Child protection advocates voice concern as WhatsApp lowers age restriction to 13

Sophie Collins


As of February 16th, thirteen-year-olds have had access to WhatsApp.

This latest move marks a departure from the previous age restriction on WhatsApp that required users to be at least 16 years old. 

The adjustment brings WhatsApp in line with the age requirements of most other social media platforms. 

However, CyberSafeKids CEO Alex Cooney highlighted that this change does not signify any additional child protection measures from WhatsApp’s end. 

In an interview with Newstalk, Cooney emphasised that WhatsApp’s approach to child safety remains unchanged, with no new safeguards announced for younger users. 

She noted that the alignment of minimum age requirements across Europe benefits the platform, but from a child protection standpoint, it represents minimal progress.

Cooney underscored that despite the age adjustment, WhatsApp’s design primarily caters to adults, lacking comprehensive safeguards tailored to children’s needs. 

Concerns have been raised around issues like bullying and the sharing of inappropriate content within WhatsApp groups. 

A survey conducted by CyberSafeKids in 2021 revealed that 39% of children aged eight to twelve in Ireland were already using the app, indicating a significant presence of underage users despite the previous age restriction.