A THIRD OF kids ages 7-9 use social media – 40% of parents don’t have time to monitor
Many young children use social media and their activities are often not monitored by parents, according to a new poll.
University of Michigan researchers surveyed parents of children ages seven to twelve to ask about their children’s social media use and how involved they are in monitoring activity.
They found that a third of teenagers ages seven to nine and just under half of kids ages 10-12 had used social media in the past 12 months.
While five out of six parents reported using at least one parental control, 40 percent of parents say regular monitoring of their child’s social use is too time consuming.
A majority of parents also expressed concern that children might divulge private information, encounter sexual predators, see pictures or videos of adults, or fail to identify incorrect information.
The rise of smart devices has also given kids easy access to social media apps like Instagram and TikTok, which in turn leaves parents more concerned about their child’s online usage (file image)
Around a third of children between the ages of seven and nine use social media, and almost half of the children between the ages of 10 and 12 use the apps. According to a survey, less than a quarter of children of this age do not use any apps at all
With devices such as tablets and smartphones ubiquitous in American homes, it is now easier for children to access social media and the internet than ever before.
Apps, including TikTok and Instagram in particular, have become popular with children in younger age groups.
All types of content are readily available on the internet, many of which are unsuitable for young children.
Researchers from Michigan conducted a nationwide survey of parents to find out how parents navigate through the trials and difficulties of raising a child in a social media obsessed world.
“Debate continues about how early it is to early when it comes to using social apps and how parents should oversee it,” Sarah Clark, co-director of Mott Poll’s survey, said in a statement.
“Our survey examines how often tweens and younger children use social platforms and how closely parents monitor these interactions.”
A majority of parents only allow their children to use certain apps if they have parental controls (74%), are classified for the age group of their child (64%) or are required for school (63%).
Parents who participated in the survey were divided into two groups, those with children ages seven to nine and those with one child ages 10-12.
Among parents with children in the younger age group, 32 percent said that their children used social media.
However, 50 percent only allow their children to use educational apps and 18 percent do not allow their children to use apps.
Parents were a little more lenient when their child is ten to twelve years old. 49 percent said that their child uses social media, 28 percent were only allowed to use educational apps and 23 percent were not allowed to use apps at all.
The majority of parents only allow their children to use certain apps if they include parental controls.
Almost 75 percent only allow their children to use an app if it has parental controls, 64 percent only if the app has been rated for the age group of their child and 63 percent only allow certain apps that are required for school.
However, every sixth parent who allows children to use apps is not using parental controls.
In addition, more than half of all parents say they cannot find these controls, and just under a third say that their children will bypass the controls anyway.
About two in five of these parents – 39 percent – say it is too time-consuming to monitor their child’s social media activities.
“When parents allow younger children to engage in social media, they should take responsibility for making the child’s online environment as safe as possible,” said Clark.
“If parents cannot commit to taking an active role in their child’s social media use, they should keep their child waiting to use these apps.”
Many parents share the same concerns about their children’s use of social media.
Around 70 percent of parents fear that their child will reveal private information or meet a sex offender online.
Slightly fewer, 64 percent, fear that their child will see adult content or read incorrect information that they cannot see.
Almost 40% of parents say they don’t have enough time to monitor their children’s social media usage, and a third say their child could bypass the controls anyway
Parents are most concerned about their children disclosing private information online or encountering sexual abuse
To protect their children from such harm, Clark recommends that parents become more active in their use of social media by teenagers and regularly talk to their children about online safety.
“Parents should educate children on how to use social media apps safely through parental controls and regular conversations with their children to teach them online safety rules,” said Clark.
“It is especially important for young children who are new to these apps that their parents pay attention to the content they are interacting with and who they are talking to.
“Parents should also make it clear that they plan to monitor their children’s profiles, posts and interactions on social media until they are older.”