The Government is considering a ban on under-16s using social media unless they have permission from their parents.

Ministers want to gather evidence about the impact social media use has on the mental health of children.

At the moment many social media sites such as Facebook, TikTok and Instagram require users to be at least 13 years old to use their services.

The initial report of the story came from Bloomberg, with a consultation on the topic planned for January, "according to people familiar with the discussions".

Social media crackdown and the Online Safety Act

Rishi Sunak's Government passed the Online Safety Act back in October which was aimed at making social media firms more responsible for users' safety on their platforms.

As reported in the Financial Times, one person familiar with government discussions said the idea of under-16s being banned from social media use unless they had parental permission was originally suggested as a late addition to the Online Safety Act.

However, this ended up being blocked and the current discussions on the topic "were the next iteration of the earlier policy debate".

They added: “No 10 see it as a win to give parents ultimate control."

Another government official said: “We’re looking at ways to empower parents, rather than crack down on anything in particular.

“We’ve identified that there is a gap in research so we’ll be looking at what more research into it needs to be done, but nothing is yet signed off by ministers."

A government spokesman said: “We do not comment on speculation. Our commitment to making the UK the safest place to be a child online is unwavering, as evidenced by our landmark Online Safety Act.

“In doing this, we also recognise the benefits of safe social media use to children as they learn about the world around them."