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    Exclusive: Wippa and Galluzzo launch 36 Months to raise social media age

    Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli, co-host of Nova 96.9’s Sydney breakfast show, and Rob Galluzzo, founder of production company FINCH, have partnered to launch 36 Months, an initiative aiming to change legislation to increase the age of social media citizenship from 13 to 16. 

    The pro bono social change movement, which is supported by News Corp Australia and NOVA Entertainment, is calling on families, community leaders and educators to sign the 36 Months change.org petition that will be taken to parliament.

    Wipfli and Galluzzo have already recruited key figures across entertainment, education, and politics to the cause, including author and parenting expert Maggie Dent, former Premier of NSW and member for Epping, The Hon. Dominic Perrottet, and media personality, Hamish Blake

    “We’re already in talks with major policymakers identifying the steps needed to change the official entry age for kids starting their own social media accounts,” said Wipfli.

    Research links social media’s impact to the critical phase of psychological development, particularly during the 36 months between the ages of 13 and 16. 

    Social media is currently used by 92% of Australian teens aged 15 to 16 years old, 59% of those aged 11 to 12 years old, and 29% of kids aged 9 to 10 years old.

    Research from the University of Sydney reveals Australians aged 14 and above spend an average of six hours a week on social media, and the eSafety Commissioner’s Digital Lives of Aussie Kids reports that 12 to 13-year-olds use an average of 3.1 social media services.

    According to Raising Children Network, the rise of social media usage has been linked to mental health issues, cyberbullying, anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide in Australian teenagers. 

    “As parents, we want to give our kids the best shot at becoming resilient and independent adults,” Galluzzo said.

    Galluzzo is on the board of directors for The Liv Project, a non-profit organisation for the prevention of youth suicide, and his documentary, My Sister Liv, revealed the realities of stigma and struggles of mental health, and the devastating aftermath after a death from suicide.

    He is also co-founder of The Lion’s Share, the UN initiative to protect the lives of endangered animals worldwide (Sir David Attenborough was ambassador).

    “The prevalent issue of excessive social media use contributing to heightened anxiety among teenagers is a growing concern for many parents and educators,” he continued.

    “The aim of 36 Months is to provide a safer environment where kids can foster a secure identity and healthy emotional development by raising the threshold of social media citizenship.”

    Further research commissioned by News Corp Australia surveyed over 3,000 social media users, including teenagers, and found that 70% of Australian teenagers have had negative experiences using social media, and a third have been exposed to disturbing or traumatic content.

    A quarter of respondents have been cyber-bullied or harassed, and 1 in 10 have been victim of revenge porn.

    “We’re raising an anxious generation. We want our kids to discover themselves, before the world discovers them,” Wipfli added.

    “Families I speak with across Australia daily reveal serious, grave concerns for their teenagers due to the effects of social media. 

    “36 Months strives to create a supportive platform for teenagers to cultivate a secure identity and navigate the digital landscape with resilience and mindfulness.”

    He explained that the initial phase of the 36 Months campaign calls for federal policy change that will safeguard the developmental journey of Australian teens. 

    Stage two is aimed at offering families and educators ideas and initiatives that enables them to better connect with teens. 

    Exclusive: Wippa and Galluzzo launch 36 Months to raise social media age

    Dent commented that “while tech companies continue to make profits off social media despite the strong evidence of the harm they are causing, we need a collective effort to protect our kids and a ban is one step that can help.” 

    Former premier Perrottet added: “36 Months is the beginning of a crucial movement in prioritising the wellbeing of our adolescents. 

    “By advocating for a policy shift to delay social media access until the age of 16, we are taking a significant step towards safeguarding the mental and emotional development of our youth – now and in the future.”

    Top image: Rob Galluzzo & Michael ‘Wippa’ Wipfli

    The post Exclusive: Wippa and Galluzzo launch 36 Months to raise social media age appeared first on Mediaweek.

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