We should teach kids how to use social media, not scare them off

A report into the social media habits of under 12s seems worrying, but children are unlikely to switch off, so they should learn how to safely navigate the online world

Is social media broadening children’s horizons and opening up new opportunities? Or is it undermining their confidence, creativity and attention spans?

The minimum official age for use of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat is 13, yet three-quarters of 10- to 12-year-olds in the UK are said to have accounts. So what should parents do?

The latest round of worry was sparked by a study of the impact of social media use on 8- to 12-year-olds published last week by Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England. The report looked at the social media use of 32 children, who said they used it to stay connected with friends and family and to have fun, by, for example, watching videos. But they also described pressures to be constantly contactable, online comments that undermine their self-esteem, and the perceived need to shape offline activities to make them more

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