Nov 10, 2017

Social Media & Children...the Latest Findings

Gen Z kids are social media immersed.  In most cases, social media membership is supposed to require users to be at least 13-years-old.  But social media is reaching younger and younger users.

A recent study by a company called Smarty Pants reveals that nearly half of 6 to 12-year-olds currently use a social media app or website.  And more than 1/3 of them log in and connect with other people online at least once a day.

Here are the most recent findings of how kids are involved in social media.

Instagram
  • total using among ages 6 to 12 is 25%
  • total using among ages 6 to 8 is 14%
  • total using among ages 9 to 12 is 32%
Musical.ly 
  • total using among ages 6 to 12 is 26%
  • total using among ages 6 to 8 is 14%
  • total using among ages 9 to 12 is 35%
Facebook
  • total using among ages 6 to 12 is 31%
  • total using among ages 6 to 8 is 24%
  • total using among ages 9 to 12 is 37%
Snapchat
  • total using among ages 6 to 12 is 34%
  • total using among ages 6 to 8 is 29%
  • total using among ages 9 to 12 is 38%
And the numbers of kids using social media continues to grow.  Instagram is up 5% over last year among kids.  Facebook and Musical.ly grew by 12% among kids and Snapchat grew 14%.  There is no denying the growing influence social media has in the lives of kids. 

In some aspects, this is a positive thing.  

Kids can quickly connect to vast amounts of news, information and friendships that previous generations could not access as children. 

It provides kids an opportunity to be involved in spreading hope and encouragement during times of crisis like the recent hurricanes and the church shooting in Texas. 

It allows kids to participate in raising money for worthy causes.  An example of this was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where kids posted videos of themselves getting doused in water to raise awareness.

It provides kids with opportunities to share their faith with others.  They can help spread the Gospel around the world through social media.

It provides kids with opportunities to grow in their faith through online discipleship courses and programs.

But on the other hand, the increased involvement in social media by children raises some red flags that must be addressed.  

How will we help kids cope with and work through the deluge of human suffering, terrorists attacks, talks of nuclear war, heated political debates and other scary news coming at them through social media?

How will we shield and protect children who are vulnerable to online predators who lurk in social media?

How will we help children deal with bullying that will come their way through social media?

How will we protect children from pornography that is spread through social media?

How will we help children discern what is truth and what is not when they are faced with so many viewpoints and taught that truth is relative?

These are questions that parents and church leaders must find answers to as social media continues to become a part of childhood for today's kids.

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