Prince Harry Wants to Protect Archie and Lili from 'Online Harm' Forever — 'But I'm Learning to Know Better'

The Duke of Sussex joined a webinar to discuss the harmful nature of the online world treating people as "digital experiments"

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex speaks on stage during the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 Opening Ceremony
Prince Harry. Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for the Invictus Games Foundation

Prince Harry is getting real about how the online world affects children — and how his role as a father to Archie Harrison and Lilibet Diana has inspired him to try and make a change.

The Duke of Sussex joined 5Rights Foundation as they launched the Global Child Online Safety Toolkit webinar on Monday, speaking to children about how the digital world and social media impact them. During the chat, Harry shared that although his and Meghan Markle's children Archie, 3, and Lili, who will turn 1 next month, are too young to experience the online world yet, he worries about the future.

"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," he said. "We want our children and all children to feel empowered to speak up."

Harry, 37, added, "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."

Prince Harry said that social media "isn't working and needs to be fixed" as it is meant to "pull us in, keep us scrolling, get us angry or anxious — or make us numb to the world around us."

"I'm not an expert on law or technology, but I am a father — and I'm lucky enough to be a father with a platform," he said. "My kids are too young to have experienced the online world yet, and I hope they never have to experience it as it exists now. No kid should have to."

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Family Holiday Card
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's 2021 holiday card with Archie and Lilibet. Alexi Lubomirski

Prince Harry and Meghan, 40, have been outspoken about the negative effects of social media. They said goodbye to their joint @SussexRoyal Instagram account with a final post on March 30, 2020, one day before they officially stepped down from their roles as senior members of the royal family — however, Prince Harry later denied reports that they had "quit" social media forever.

Speaking with Fast Company last year, Harry said social media can "offer a means of connecting and community, which are vital to us as human beings."

"We will revisit social media when it feels right for us — perhaps when we see more meaningful commitments to change or reform — but right now we've thrown much of our energy into learning about this space and how we can help," he said.

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex pose at the IGF Reception during day two of the Invictus Games The Hague 2020 at Zuiderpark on April 17, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Chris Jackson/Getty

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In a 2020 video call, Prince Harry encouraged activists to continue their work to end the negativity and hate that spreads online, joking that he felt he was already "way too old."

"You've got to stop, we're not old!" Meghan replied.

"But it's true," Harry said. "This is the world you're going to inherit."

Meghan quickly added, "And Archie!"

"And Archie," Harry repeated. "It's on all of us collectively to make the world a better place...and we are."

Meghan and Harry Invictus Games
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Chris Jackson/Getty

Prince Harry and Meghan announced earlier this month that they will travel to the U.K. in a few weeks with their two children to attend Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The trip will be the first time Lili, who was born in California last year, will visit her dad's homeland.

The news came shortly after Queen Elizabeth, 96, announced that only working members of the royal family will appear for the traditional Buckingham Palace balcony appearance as part of Trooping the Colour, the monarch's annual public birthday celebration.

Prince Harry and Meghan will not be part of the appearance. Harry's uncle Prince Andrew, who is no longer a working royal following his association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, will also not be included on the balcony.

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