Teens analyze how social media impacts them 2:41
(CNN) – It is no longer just teenagers who are on social media. Younger kids are getting into those apps too, and some parents don’t trust their kids to be able to stay safe in this context.
About half of parents with children ages 10 to 12, and 32% of parents of children ages 7 to 9, reported that their children had used social media apps in the first six months of this year, according to the new National Survey on Children’s Health of the CS Mott Children’s Hospital published this Monday.
“The debate continues about how early is too early when it comes to social app use and how parents should monitor it,” said Mott Survey co-director Sarah Clark, a research scientist in Pediatrics at the University of Michigan, in a statement. . “Our survey examines the frequency with which tweens and younger children use social platforms and the degree of supervision parents have of these interactions.”
The findings are “further proof that children under the age of 13 are eager to use social media platforms, for whatever reason: entertainment, celebrities, connecting with friends, or being drawn to design that promotes common participation. at these sites, “said Dr. Jenny Radesky, assistant professor of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at University of Michigan CS Mott Children’s Hospital, by email. Radesky did not participate in the survey.
When deciding which apps were appropriate for their children, more than 60% of parents considered whether the apps had parental controls, were age appropriate for their children, or were necessary for their schooling. Between 51% and 66% of parents used parental locks on certain sites, parental approval for new contacts, privacy settings, daily time limits, and an access code for certain content.
Many parents are also concerned about their children’s ability to safely navigate social media applications. Some were concerned that their children would inadvertently share private information, encounter sexual predators, see racy images or videos, or be unable to discern what information was true or false. According to the report, almost 50% of parents with children who use social networks did not trust that their children would be able to distinguish whether another user was an adult or a child, which can be difficult.
The Children’s Internet Privacy Protection Act requires operators of applications and other online services to offer parental control options over the disclosure of private information, according to the survey authors. However, 17% of the parents of children who use social network applications stated that they did not use any type of parental control, for reasons such as the impossibility of finding the necessary information to configure it, the belief that supervising the use of the Social media apps by your kids required too much time or the consideration that it was a waste of time because kids were finding ways to bypass parental control.
“Parents are in a state of total exhaustion at this point in the pandemic, so it is entirely reasonable for them to feel a sense of overwhelm or worthlessness when trying to keep up with social media platforms that have billions of users. dollars in revenue and tremendous data analytics capabilities, “says Radesky.
However, if “parents allow younger children to participate in social media, they must take responsibility for making the child’s online environment as safe as possible,” Clark said, regardless of the downsides. “If parents can’t commit to taking an active role in their children’s use of social media, they should make them wait to use these apps.”
Teens analyze how social media impacts them 2:41
How to help your child stay safe on the Internet
The authors wrote that these children’s use of social media may include child-friendly versions or sections of apps. Additionally, some apps created specifically for young children have tried to limit security risks by restricting features such as photo posting or using private chats, or by offering usage reports for parents.
Parents considering letting their kids use certain social media apps should research them first, Clark advised. “Parents should check to see if content is selected to allow only youth-friendly programming or if there is a moderator to remove inappropriate content,” he said. “They must also use parental locks or access codes for certain sites or content.”
For resources on managing children’s social media use, Radesky encouraged parents to visit age-range guidance from Common Sense Media, an independent organization that provides expert reviews, research, and tools for help parents, educators, and advocates ensure children’s digital well-being.
Parents can also check out information compiled by the creators of the movie “Screenagers” and posted on the film’s director Dr. Delaney Ruston’s weekly blog, Radesky said. The blog is worth following for ways to talk with children about controversial and hard-to-discuss topics, Radesky added.
As for how parents can talk about their social media concerns so they can reach their kids, Radesky suggested “talking about newsworthy topics like Facebook Files. Kids will want to know when they are taking advantage of them, and this could help spark a conversation about when tech companies are crossing the line. “
In cases where Radesky’s young children may have social media accounts, she frequently informs them about whether the body image content they see online is inappropriate, exploitative or disruptive, she said.
There are also possible solutions for parents who are unsure whether their children can distinguish between an adult and a child, or between truth and misinformation. “Encourage children not to respond to direct messages or posts from people they don’t know, even if that person claims to be a child,” Radesky said.
And “much of the content on social media is oversized, filtered, or tweaked in some way to get more engagement in the recommendation feed. Teach kids to have a healthy dose of skepticism when they look at any feed of recommendations is crucial at this time, “Radesky said. “Children can acquire these skills, but they will need the support of their parents and teachers.”
Does educating children in school about social media work?
Education works, according to the survey. According to the results of the survey, parents whose children had received instructions in their schools about the safe use of social networks had more confidence in their children’s judgment in relation to social networks. This suggests that digital literacy and citizenship curricula at school could carry over into life at home or lead to more fruitful conversations between parents and children, Radesky said.
“It is also possible that children who are fortunate enough to attend schools that teach digital citizenship are also in neighborhoods of higher socioeconomic status, where parents may feel more self-efficacy around technology management,” Radesky added.
“In my 2016 study interviewing parents from low-income, suburban, academic, and tech business backgrounds, the latter two groups felt much better equipped to handle these kinds of complex conversations and set rules,” he said.
Here is information to configure the parental or security controls available on the most popular social media platforms: