Is Your Child Old Enough for Social Media?
Social media use among kids and teens has increased considerably in recent years, particularly during the pandemic, when kids and adults alike effectively moved their school, work, and social lives online as much as possible. Adults who experienced parental burnout during the pandemic may have stopped monitoring their kids’ online activities as closely as they might otherwise have done. And once the Pandora’s box of unfettered access to popular social media apps has been opened, parents will likely find it difficult to shut again.
Children have also begun using social media at younger and younger ages; although most do so around the age of 12, a significant number have accounts as early as age 7. This can be harmful for a number of reasons: it puts young children at risk of exposure to cyberbullying, online predators, unhealthy lifestyles, extremist propaganda, and dangerous popular “challenges,” to name a few. Here’s what every parent should know about the age-appropriateness of social media for their kids.
How Many Kids Use Social Media?
Many social media platforms require users to be at least 13 years old in order to help prevent young children from stumbling onto content that is inappropriate for their age level. However, as of 2022, a majority of parents allowed children under 13 to use some form of social media. 60% allowed their pre-teens to use YouTube, 54% allowed Instagram, and 49% allowed TikTok. Currently, the most popular apps among kids and adolescents are YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Although the decision to let your child or teen use social media is a personal one, it’s worth asking yourself: should your child really have their own social media account? If so, at what age should they be allowed to open one?
Should Kids Have Social Media?
Experts warn that any social media use among children under 13 is gravely concerning, in part because these platforms often contain content that kids are not psychologically mature enough to process in healthy or discerning ways. In addition to the ease with which they can stumble onto graphic and inappropriate content, young children are highly susceptible to harmful misinformation, peer pressure, and manipulation.
Tweens and teens 13 and older may fare better, but should be taught about internet dangers of all descriptions before opening social media accounts. Parents should be aware of what kinds of platforms their kids are using and make judicious use of app parental controls.
Parents should also keep an eye out for troubling patterns, even in their older children. Time on social media should always be balanced with other healthy activities, such as getting adequate sleep, exercise, in-person socializing, doing chores and homework, and spending time with family.
Teach Kids Safe Tech Use With Net Positive
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens and leaders. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based programs with a focus on those that improve academic engagement, build character, and improve healthy behaviors.
Our Net Positive Program educates K-12 students about digital safety, health, citizenship, and leadership. After participating in our program, students are 97% better prepared to face internet dangers. Contact us to learn more and ask your school to schedule a Net Positive Presentation, or support us with your donation today!
Moyer, Melinda Wenner. “Kids as Young as 8 Are Using Social Media More than Ever, Study Finds.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Mar. 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/well/family/child-social-media-use.html.
Suciu, Peter. “What Is the Right Age to Let Kids Use Social Media?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 12 Oct. 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/petersuciu/2022/03/03/what-is-the-right-age-to-let-kids-use-social-media/?sh=30649f626d33.