More and more children between the ages of 8 and 12 are using social media, according to a new survey
An online safety organization for children found that over a quarter of children ages 8-12 can go online “whenever they want” and that the vast majority have social media profiles.
CyberSafeKids, formerly known as CyberSafeIreland, surveyed more than 2,000 children ages eight to twelve and found that social media use among this age group has increased 17% since last year.
The TikTok video app is the most used in this age group, with 46% of children reporting using the app.
CyberSafeKids CEO Alex Cooney said Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in “more children than ever” using social media despite being younger than the required age. Many apps require users to be at least 13 years old to sign in.
“The age group we surveyed is still a very young audience and is generally in the early stages of their online journey. The message we want to get across is that they need parental guidance, ”Cooney told TheJournal.ie.
She said children in this age cohort should not have “totally independent experiences” online.
“It’s important to have these conversations and make rules such as that we can play devices in the living room, but not in a bedroom with the door closed.”
28% of the children surveyed said they could go online “whenever they want” and 15% said there were “no rules” for using the internet.
The survey also found that 28% of children have friends or followers who are strangers to them.
35% of children said they use WhatsApp and a third use Snapchat.
No news is bad news
Support the journal
Your contributions will help us keep delivering the stories that matter to you
Support us now
The survey of 2,089 children between the ages of eight and twelve was carried out between September last year and January 2021. A total of 92% of these children state that they have their own smart device.
Cooney emphasized the benefits of the Internet for educational and social reasons, but said that “especially when children are young” it is important to talk about limits and rules for using social media.
“We’ve probably relied on technology more than ever in the past 12 months – and so have kids,” she said.
“We all know what we should do with things like healthy eating and road safety, for example, but we also have to implement these social norms really quickly for digital wellbeing.”