Should Children be able to Access Social Media Companies?
1st November 2019
The rise of social media has long been under scrutiny by both the government and by parents who have ongoing concerns about their children’s usage of the popular online networks. But what are the main concerns that parents have, and are the governments concerns legitimate? This article aims to look at the facts and trends around children accessing social media, the effects that certain social apps and networks can have on younger people and whether or not there is cause for concern and if there is a requirement for greater restrictions to be put in place. Many companies feel the same as Mike Jones of Swindon based digital marketing company TSE comments.
The effects of social media on children is still quite unclear. There have been some studies that link over-use of social media to mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety, and others that argue that the communication and information access provided by the platforms encourages children to be more open, confident and happier in themselves. The information out there about children and social media is vastly contradictory, so what exactly is that information?
Well according to an article in the Guardian in early 2019, an extensive survey was to be carried out across 40,000 households by Portsmouth and Sheffield University looking at how social media impacts upon the mental health of children and young people. However, later in the year (May), the same outlet published an article based on an Oxford study around the same topic, stating that findings regarding the effects were ‘trivial’, with a co-author stating, “99,75% of a young person’s life satisfaction across a year has nothing to do with whether they are using more or less social media.”
The problem people have with studies such as this is, it is hard to know how accurate they really are, as well as how quickly things can change as growing trends, particularly to do with social media add-ons such as photoshopping apps, increase in popularity. The study did show that girls in particular seem to be affected more by social media, but that the effects were still ‘tiny’. Again, the findings could potentially be problematic due to the fact that some younger people may not want to divulge how certain aspects of social media are making them feel, nor might they want to stop using the networks. So, misinformation is a possibility.
That being said, there were no conclusive signs that children having access to social media companies was having a negative impact. Much of the problem could be down to the ways in which the apps are being used. As we mentioned, the rise of photo-altering apps is a growing concern, but it seems to be something that is impacting young people above the age of 18 rather than children. What’s more, there are parental controls and guidelines that can be used to restrict any potential harmful content, and so on. With this in mind, it does seem to indicate that there are more pressing issues than that of children accessing social media. Overall, it is down to careful monitoring and consistent encouragement for children to be open about how they are feeling and/or coping with any social aspect of their life, digital or otherwise.