I have a 4-year-old, and the only apps he uses unsupervised on the tablet are kid-specific: they include PBS Kids, and his Netflix and Paramount+ profiles curated by me. He sometimes uses YouTube, but I oversee that in person, so he doesn’t click on something he shouldn’t see.
Some parents consider YouTube to be the safest social media option available to children, according to a survey by PrivacyHQ. The advocacy site (and VPN reviewer) surveyed 1,013 parents with children under 18, 659 of whom have children under 13, between January 7-11, and one of the top findings is that 69% of parents believe that social media has an influence on children.
Children replicating dangerous trends on TikTok and other platforms are a big concern; do you remember the Tide Pod Challenge? YouTube has long been flooded with bizarre videos targeting children. The most-watched content on YouTube is aimed at or features children. This is probably why YouTube created the standalone YouTube Kids app. Although it got off to a rocky start, YouTube Kids is now the platform parents consider the safest for young viewers, at 68%. Regular YouTube is not far behind with 56% of parents agreeing. TikTok is down at 35%.
Safety is key; it’s nearly impossible for parents today to keep kids offline. Ninety-five percent of parents said they had talked to their children about some form of internet safety, but the numbers are low on specifics. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they were online predators and had never met a stranger in person. The stats are below 50% on everything else, including cyberbullying, trolling, addiction, and not posting personal information.
Age 13 is the magic limit for most parents: 73% said kids shouldn’t have social media. to access before this date. The majority also agree with statements about putting restrictions in place and potential social media must be addictive, bad for mental health and downright dangerous.
Yet not only do 57% of parents let their children under 13 use social media, especially YouTube and Instagram, primarily to play games or watch videos, but 49% let children under 13 create their own social media accounts. In theory, most social media platforms prohibit children under the age of 13 from complying with the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, although it is easy to circumvent this.
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Children wanted to be famous for things like singing or acting. But 64% of parents say their child has already mentioned how much they want to be an influencer. Eighty-one percent said they would support this; 31% of those who let their child under 13 use social media did so to support their child’s content creation dreams. (After all, it may one day pay for college or a new house.)
Yet parents say they don’t want their kids to use social media as much as they do. With the average American spending 1,300 hours a year on social media in 2020, according to Uswitch, that makes sense. So, set a good example for young people: save your TikTok viewing for your private time, like those 5 minutes spent in the bathroom. Assuming your child influencer isn’t knocking on the door all the time.
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