ESTHER Ghey has called on the new Government to help in a bid to stop children from being ‘brainwashed’ by harmful online content.

She made the comments when she appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Tuesday alongside Emma Mills, headteacher of Birchwood Community High School, at which Esther’s daughter Brianna was a pupil.

The 16-year-old was murdered by two other children who had accessed horrific material online.

There was a call for the new Labour Government to act swiftly and take a stronger stance to implement age restrictions and verification on social media.

During the election campaign, ITV asked Sir Keir Starmer, now Prime Minister, if he would ban under 16s from accessing such platforms

He said: “No, I do not think banning social media for under 16s is viable, but I do think platform providers have to be better regulated in terms of what is available online.”

On this, Esther said: “I completely agree with what Sir Keir said that it needs to be better regulated, and I have met with Ofcom quite a few times and I know it is doing some really great work.

“What I am calling for is for there to be more research as the term ‘age appropriateness’ is being thrown around all the time, but what age is appropriate?

“We don’t know, so more research on how social media and smartphone use is actually affecting mental health and wellbeing.

“Brianna was forced into this online world (during lockdown), and social isolation and the ease of getting social contact online overtook her, and she became really addicted to her phone.

Brianna Ghey

Brianna Ghey

“The amount of arguments that we had when I wanted to make sure that I could monitor her phone and she was very secretive over it.

“I could really tell how much it impacted her mental health.

“Something I really struggled with as a parent was being able to monitor and safeguard her online, so I would like to see devices that have simple safeguarding and parental controls.

“One thing I would really like to see is harmful word monitoring. We already have this software in schools, so it is available.

“I think it would prevent so many children self-harming or taking their own lives or grooming. You would be able to pick up on these things as a parent.”

Emma explained how there are already parental control apps available, and child safe network sim cards with these measures in-built.

In Warrington, the pair are working on a campaign called Disconnect to Reconnect which is based around social media use and smart phones.

“There are 44 schools in Warrington that are signed up at the moment, and what we are saying is that we are asking parents to pledge to protect their child by not having social media until you are 13 – that’s the legal age,” Emma explained.

“Then we are saying that some level of parental control should be in place until they are 16. We are not saying do not give them social media or phones.

“What we are saying is, do it and parent them and hold their hand in that online world. Have it so you know what they are doing and educate them and guide them, so that when they get to 16, they can go and live in the online world in a safe and educated way.

Esther and Brianna

Esther and Brianna

On why she campaigns, Esther said: “Essentially, what children are accessing online is brainwashing them.

“You have this addictive device, and then the algorithm will keep feeding them this toxic information like self-harming.

“Some of the stuff they (Brianna’s killers) were accessing online as well is absolutely horrendous.

“It can brainwash children and lead them down a dark hole, and to somewhere a parent would never want their children to be.

“The main reason I campaign is because I saw how much Brianna struggled.

“Life can be so short, and if I can help any parents and young people to be happier and have a better relationship, and not to go down the route that Brianna went down, because it is such a shame that she lived the last two years of her life struggling with anxiety.”

She is calling for more research and a thorough consultation to see what age is appropriate and how it is impacting our children’s mental health and wellbeing.

“We need to do this, and then we can find out what we need to do to make things better,” she added.

To see the interview on Good Morning Britain in full, visit