Internet Matters has launched its ‘social about social’ campaign – helping parents protect their children across social media, as new figures reveal children as young as 11 post an average of 26 times a day, attract 100 followers to every one of their profiles – yet six out of 10 of them are not real friends.
Parents are being given tips on how to tackle issues from privacy, tagging and geo-location settings, to stranger-danger, cyberbullying and sexting, so they are more confident in keeping up with what their children are doing online and dealing with the rapid pace of change in the digital playground.
The new survey by Internet Matters – exploring the extent children aged between 11 and 16 are living their lives online – shows how a child living in Glasgow claimed to post more than three times the amount as a child in Brighton. Children in Glasgow claimed to post 47 times a day, making it the kids social media capital of Britain; compared to Brighton where the average was 13 times a day (see infographic).
The average child has 144 friends on Facebook, 125 on Instagram, 114 Twitter followers and 90 on Snapchat, according to the poll. However, they said they only have 43 friends in real life away from social media.
Associate Professor Dr Emma Bond, an expert in children and mobile technologies in child behaviour at the University Campus Suffolk (UCS), commented: “Childhood is a time when friendship is really important. At any age having friends is important for good mental health and wellbeing and children’s friendships are vital to their social and emotional development.
Children want to have lots of friends and be liked both in the playground and online. Social media gives them the opportunity to socialise with their friends but also to have people as online friends that they have never met in real life. Many children, however, are unaware of the dangers of having online friends who are actually strangers.”
Joining the campaign, several parents and their children have opened up about their own social media worlds and shared their experiences – both good and bad. Nicola Jenkins revealed how her 14-year-old son has 900 followers on Instagram yet he only knows 200 of them in real-life. She has also banned her 12-year-old daughter from the same network after another mum complained she had sent a nasty message to her daughter.