Today’s children don’t know a world without social media – it’s an integral part of everyday life. But a consequence of this is that more and more parents are worried that their children could be sharing too much online.
The latest research commissioned by Equifax the credit information expert, in support of Safer Internet Day which took place earlier this month, reveals that whilst 16 year olds spend the most time on social media each day, kids as young as 8 are sharing images and chatting online, despite 13 being the age limit to own a social media account.
According to the research – and perhaps not surprising – 16 year olds spend the most time on social media, with 41% admitting to spending three to four hours a day. A third of 14 to 15 year olds also admitted to spending this amount of time on social media accounts each day. However, the more worrying finding from the research is that 13% of 8 to 9 year olds said that they spend up to four hours on social media each day; 16% of 10 to 11 year olds said the same. As social media platforms require someone to be 13 before they can open an account this suggests a failing in sign up processes.
When it comes to sharing, 61% of all children and teens who responded to the survey think it is okay to share images of others without their permission. Perhaps because they haven’t been told otherwise, 10 to 11 year olds are the most likely to share other people’s images (66%), with 14 to 15 year olds least likely (55%).
However, 14 to 15 year olds are the most likely to think it’s okay to share pictures of themselves (61%) or their family (44%). And a worrying 24% of this age group don’t see the harm in sharing when and where they are going on holiday. This could pose a risk if fraudsters or thieves decide to target their home while the family is away.
16 year olds are also prone to sharing a lot of information, with 59% sharing pictures of themselves and 41% sharing pictures of their family. 21% of 8 to 9 year olds share pictures of themselves, but only 6% share their holiday details.
Facebook is still the top social media platform with nearly half of all kids using it (49%) and 86% of 16 year olds favouring this platform. Interestingly, 8 to 9 year olds favour YouTube (33%) which does have age restricted content, and 20% opted for WhatsApp.
“Last year the Government published its Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper, highlighting the need for online safety and educating young people on how to stay safe online. It also outlines the need for robust safeguards to help parents protect their children, and social media companies have a part to play in this” explains Lisa Hardstaff, credit information expert at Equifax.
“Until then, we advise parents to make sure they set up controls on their children’s devices to manage what can be accessed online. Education is key to helping kids stay safe online. We would encourage parents to talk to their kids about the risks of fake profiles and possibly set up “house rules” about who they can allow to be friends on their social media, as well as the information and pictures they can share online. It is worth remembering that most social media apps have a minimum age rating of 13 which means if a younger child signs up to the sites then they could potentially have access to unsuitable material.”
 Study commissioned by Equifax conducted by Censuswide which surveyed 1,001 parents and children aged 8-16 years old – 09.01.2018 – 11.01.2018