What age restriction? Most children under 13 have social media profiles: Report

The report also found that overcoming these age restrictions is clearly not a difficult task. Children simply supply a fake age when setting up their account.

By Sumit Jha  Published on  5 April 2022 2:52 PM GMT
What age restriction? Most children under 13 have social media profiles: Report

Hyderabad: A majority of children under 13 had a profile on at least one social media app or site, according to UK's communications regulator Ofcom. In its report, it confirmed that children are avid social media users.

Around 33% of parents with children aged 5-7 years said their child had a profile and 60% of those with children aged 8-11 said they had one. More than six in 10 children aged 8-17 said they had more than one profile on some online apps and sites (62%); the most common reason, overall, was having one profile just for their parents, family or friends to see.

Just four in 10 parents of 3-17s knew the minimum age requirement for using most social media; 42% correctly said 13. Four in 10 parents of 8-11-year-olds said they would allow their child to use social media (38%).

The report also found that overcoming these age restrictions is clearly not a difficult task. Children simply supply a fake age when setting up their account. Meanwhile, some children have multiple accounts on the same platform – one for their friends and another for their parents.

Nearly all children went online in 2021 (99%); the majority used a mobile phone (72%) or tablet (69%) to do so. More than a third (36%) of primary school-age children did not always have access to an adequate device for online learning at home, compared to 17% of secondary-age children. One in 10 primary-age children rarely or never had access (11%), compared to 3% in secondary school.

YouTube, TikTok, and streaming services popular

Children also used most of the time on video-sharing platforms (VSPs) such as YouTube or TikTok. It was the most popular online activity among children aged 3-17 (95%). While the majority chose to watch content on VSPs, 31% posted content they had made themselves, especially those aged 12-17 years. Among all types of online platforms, YouTube was the most widely used by children – 89% used it, compared to half using TikTok. But TikTok was more popular for posting content.

Children still watch live television but are more likely to watch paid-for on-demand streaming services – 78% watched services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, compared to 47% watching live TV. Scotland had the largest decline in broadcast viewing. Despite almost six in 10 teenagers saying they used social media for news, it was the least trusted or accurate news source; 12-15s preferred to trust their family (68%) or the TV (65%) for news.

Parental concerns about children's content consumption

Seven in 10 parents of children under 16 were concerned about the content their child saw online. The aspects of greatest concern were age-inappropriate content such as violence, bad language, disturbing content, and sexual or 'adult' content. Parents had fewer concerns about the TV content their child watched than about online content – 46% were concerned about their child seeing bad language, violence or disturbing content on TV.

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