Remember once upon a time when you thought it was ridiculous that kids in elementary school had cell phones and other gadgets? Today, 48 percent of girls between the ages of six and 12 have a cell phone—and 51 percent of those have a smartphone! Most adults today never had this type of exposure to technology growing up. Of teens ages 12-17, 95 percent use the Internet and 81 percent use social media, compared to 72 of all Internet users who use social media. You may still be shocked to learn that over half of all adolescents log into a social media site more than once a day. Among kids under 13, 21 percent use a social media site and 26 percent say they have a YouTube account.
When you were growing, you might have been saving up for playdough or a new LEGO set. Kids today are saving up for the latest technology and smartphones. Kids are accessing their favorite websites via laptops, tablets, desktops and smartphones—and YouTube happens to be a general favorite. In a survey of kids eight to 12, 23 percent of tween girls voted Instagram as their favorite smartphone app. Children under age 13 are prohibited from using SnapChat, but the app doesn’t ask for age at signup, so the ban is not widely enforced.
Social media sites may allow teens and tweens to stay in touch with friends and family, make new friends, share photos, exchange ideas and find opportunities for community engagement. There is also potential harm, however—including increased narcissism and cyberbullying. About 33 percent survey said being famous was either somewhat important, important or very important. Cyberbullying is most common online risk for teens and tweens—and it can lead to depression, anxiety, severe isolation and suicide.
How can you monitor your kid’s social media use? Check your privacy settings, use software, tell them what to avoid and keep the computer in a central location. Allow your kids to be social and to go social—just be smart about it. Do you currently monitor their social media use? Please share in the comments, and be sure to check out the infographic below to learn more.