Prince Harry recently expressed his fears about the online world and how it will affect the younger generation, including his and Meghan Markle’s own two children, Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana. On Monday, the Duke of Sussex joined the 5Rights Foundation as it launched its Global Child Online Safety Toolkit webinar and spoke with kids about how social media and the digital age will impact them. It was during the chat that Harry, who joined virtually from his home in Montecito, got v candid about his own take as a father to 3-year-old Archie and 11-month-old Lilibet.
“As parents, my wife and I are concerned about the next generation growing up in a world where they are treated as digital experiments for companies to make money and where things like hatred and harm are somehow normalized,” the duke began. “We want our children and all children to feel empowered to speak up.”
“My two little ones are still at their age of innocence. Sometimes I feel like I can keep them away from the online harm that they could face in the future forever, but I’m learning to know better,” he continued, adding that social media, as it stands, “isn’t working and needs to be fixed” because it is inherently designed to “pull us in, keep us scrolling, get us angry or anxious—or make us numb to the world around us.”
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Harry ended the talk by affirming that although he isn’t “an expert on law or technology,” he is “a father”—and one “with a platform” at that. I mean, if you consider the sixth person in line to the British royal throne to be somewhat influential, then we’re gonna have to agree.
This isn’t the first time Harry or Meghan has spoken openly about the negative effects of social media. On March 30, 2020, one day before the two would officially step down from their roles as senior members of the royal family, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex posted for the final time on their joint @SussexRoyal Instagram account. One of the most resonant sentences from the caption reads: “What’s most important right now is the health and well-being of everyone across the globe and finding solutions for the many issues that have presented themselves as a result of this pandemic.”
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A few months later in August 2020, Harry published an essay for Fast Company and discussed how social media platforms have the ability to foster echo chambers that propel misinformation and separation. “If we are susceptible to the coercive forces in digital spaces, then we have to ask ourselves—what does this mean for our children? As a father, this is especially concerning to me,” he wrote. “It shouldn’t be seen as a coincidence that the rise of social media has been matched by a rise in division amongst us globally…We can—and must—encourage these platforms to redesign themselves in a more responsible and compassionate way. The world will feel it, and we will all benefit from it.”
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