More than half of children use social media by the age of 10.

Back in October 2013 Opinium surveyed 1,006 parents of children aged eight to 16 online and 1,004 children aged eight to 16 to give us a headline that more than half of children use social media by the age of 10 years old with Facebook being the most popular site they look to join. Scary stats also showed that 43 per cent of children using social media using the likes of Facebook, WhatsApp and SnapChat had messaged people they didn’t know!

Popular social media sites used by children include Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram BBM and Snapchat with a high percentage saying that they ignored the official age limit (Social Age report via KnowTheNet). Another stat that will concern many is the knowledge that parents hold on social media with figures showing that more parents are unsure on how to use social media and what it really is about thus being not in control of the safety of their children online.

Photo and video sharing is also popular amongst children and this is being done by children as young as 11. A more encouraging figure shows that a higher percentage will look to their parents when they experience any issues when using social media. A higher percentage of parents also check their children’s activity on social media though many are still unaware of parental controls and similar.

We must also remember that internet access to social media sites isn’t done only via the home pc or laptop, we are in a world of mobile devices so parents need to monitor the likes of mobile phones, iPods, game consoles, tablets and more.

‘Yet, as social media has removed the barriers between a young person’s public and private self, children can become vulnerable, and compulsive online sharing can lead to danger.

We would suggest that parents at least read up on social media online, not necessarily to be able to use the platforms themselves, but to understand the rules they have in place, what each platform allows users to do and also read up on stories where social media has caused problems for children. In most cases, the internet and social media is a wonderful place to learn, enjoy and socialise with great people and children can really increase their knowledge base. As a parent, keep an open discussion for social media at home, embrace what your children are doing on social media and let them know you are there if anything goes wrong, no matter how trivial or important something is.




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