The ‘Life in likes’ report launched today by the Children’s Commissioner for England is based on a series of focus groups with 32 children aged 8 to 12 years.
The report gives an insight into the role of digital technology in children’s lives and the impact this can have on their wellbeing.
The report reveals the positive role of technology in children’s lives, enabling them to be creative and play games. It found that children had strategies about how to cheer themselves up or calm themselves down using social media, from getting funny Snapchats from a friend to watching slime videos on Instagram.
Kam, 10, Year 6: “If you’re in a bad mood at home you go on social media and you laugh and then you feel better”
Alina, 11, Year 7: “If you’re like really stressed or something and you watch a really satisfying slime video it makes you like calmer”
However, the report also revealed the risks and pressures that children and young people can face when using social media. From relationship break downs to the peer pressure they can face to reply quickly, get likes and appear ‘pretty’ or ‘cool’.
Harry, 11, Year 6: “When you get 50 likes it makes you feel good cos you know people think you look good in that photo.”
Aimee, 11, Year 7: “You might compare yourself cos you’re not very pretty compared to them.”
Billy 9, Year 5: “When you get a buzz, and then you go to get it but you don’t. And then you get another buzz and another buzz, and another buzz. And then you’ve just got to go get it, and then you just go off course with your homework.”
Freddie, 9, Year 4: “It can make you sad when someone lets out one of your biggest secrets like where you actually live or who you love”
The report reveals that the beginning of secondary school is a key transition moment when children are more likely to begin using social media and can face heightened pressures.
The context: number of children using social media
The 2017 Ofcom report found that almost a quarter of 8-11s (23%) and three-quarters of 12-15s have a social media profile, revealing the rapid increase in the number of children who have a social media profile at each age:
- 12% by 9 years
- 28% by 10 years
- 46% by 11 years
- 51% by 12 years
- 72% by 13 years
- 89% by 15 years
Despite, this less than two in five parents of 5-15s (38%) whose child has a profile on Facebook or Facebook Messenger are aware that 13 is the minimum age requirement for setting up a profile, with awareness lower among parents whose child has a profile on Instagram (21%), Snapchat (15%) or WhatsApp (7%).