Safer Internet Day

Social media use by underage children surges during lockdown

CyberSafeKids report shows declining parental control of Web usage
Image: Webwise

9 February 2021

More than eight out of 10 children (82%) aged between the eight and 12 years have profiles on social media and messaging apps, according to research by CyberSafeKids marking Safer Internet Day.

The survey of 2,000 children by the online safety charity found that nearly one-in-three (28%) are allowed to go online whenever they want and 15% says there are no rules around Internet use. The data also shows that 28% of children have friends or followers that are strangers.

Most well-known social media apps have a minimum age use of 13, but the data shows this isn’t stopping younger children joining such platforms.




The level of use of social media use amongst the 8-12 age cohort has risen significantly, with the level of 82% in this year’s survey compared with 65% last year, and 60% two years ago. TikTok is the most commonly used app (46%) followed by WhatsApp (35%) and Snapchat (33%).

“Covid-19 restrictions mean that more children than ever are using social media despite being younger than the minimum age restrictions that are meant to apply,” said Alex Cooney, CEO of CyberSafeKids. “We’re concerned that there is not enough parental oversight of the content children are consuming, and that so many kids have friends or followers that they don’t actually know in real life.

“This Safer Internet Day we want to use the opportunity to remind parents of the importance of being involved in their children’s online lives. It is essential that they are having conversations with their kids and putting boundaries in place, as well as keeping an eye on what they’re consuming, who they’re talking to and what they’re posting.”

CyberSafeKids has also launched its new CyberSafe Tool for Schools, which will support primary schools to achieve best practice in online safety.

The Tool for Schools is free for schools to access and use and has been tested on a number of primary schools across the country to ensure that it is user-friendly and beneficial for school use.

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