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Should Young Kids Use Snapchat and Instagram? New research


Recent literature has highlighted how technology and social media are shaping the next generation, and the consensus seems to be that this is a sharp double-edged sword.

New research published in Computers in Human Behavior is no exception. The study, led by faculties at Wellesley Centers for Women, found that joining social media – especially Snapchat and Instagram – before the age of 11 was significantly associated with “more problematic digital behaviors” than those using the platforms in Age to join.

The team surveyed over 750 middle school students in the northeastern United States and found that those who joined these platforms aged 10 or under had more internet friends who parents would disapprove of and more social websites that were similarly frowned upon was. They also displayed more “unsympathetic online behavior” and were more likely to be victims of online bullying or harassment. All in all, a mess of problematic digital moods.

Of course, this may not be news to social media giant Facebook; A recent treasure trove of leaks in the Wall Street Journal revealed that the platform had been aware for some time that it was “toxic” to teenage girls, and also outlined its ambitions to entice tweens and pre-teens with targeted child-specific products . Like almost all social media, including Twitter and TikTok, Facebook’s rules require that users be at least 13 years old to participate. However, people who sign up provide their own date of birth, so this is hardly an effective firewall – and, according to common sense, it almost goes without saying that packs of renegade children roam the social media universe.

In fact, “a third of our sample had started using social media by the age of 11 or 12, and another third had started at 10 or younger,” study author Linda Charmaraman said in a statement. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. The results of the study also suggest that parents can combat the harmful effects by limiting how often their children use social media or by limiting phone use. Participants who reported such parental controls showed fewer adverse effects.

And it’s not all bad: According to the study, those who joined social media before the age of 11 also showed greater civic engagement within the online community – like posting supportive content or promoting events and activism for social Topics – possibly as their socialization at a younger age helped them to see both the positive and negative potentials of such platforms. Regardless of when they joined social media, young teenagers showed more positive digital behavior than negative ones overall.

For comment on the study, a Snapchat spokesperson said the platform was “designed for young people aged 13 and over, so we’re banning children from using the app, and we’re not marketing or manufacturing that age group.” a specific product for them. “

When we were asked for a comment, Instagram led us to the blog of company boss Adam Mosseri, from which this statement came: “We are firmly convinced that it is better for parents to give their children access to a version of Instagram developed for them “- where parents can monitor and control their experience – than relying on an app’s ability to check the ages of children too young to have ID.”

When the first kids to grow up on social media are in their twenties and thirties, the impact of the internet revolution will likely go deeper – and we can expect the need to understand how technology is making kids at their most formidable Years, only to be understood is more urgent.

This article has been updated to reflect comments from Instagram.


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