Life in Likes - Social Media Risks
England's Children's Commissioner has suggested that schools should play a bigger part in preparing children for social media's emotional demands as they move from primary to secondary school.
A recent study undertaken by Anne Longfield concluded that children aged eight to 12 found it hard to manage the impact. The report was collated by conducting 8 focus groups with 32 children aged 8 - 12 to understand the impact of social media on the wellbeing of this age group.
The report commented that more and more children are online in different ways and that many children were over dependent on likes and comments for social validation.
Ms Longfield noted that there was a real change in the way children used social media - from it being fun and family orientated when children are nine and ten - into a much more serious role when they start secondary school, where it has a real impact on their social life and self-identity and they find themselves chasing likes and validation, as well as being very anxious about their appearance on and offline. They also feel they can't disconnect from social media as this will be socially damaging. This shift in feeling comes at a time of increased pressure of starting secondary school
Ms Longfield called on schools and parents to prepare children emotionally for the significant risks of social media as they move schools and meet new classmates - many of whom may have their own phones.
Although many social media platforms have a minimum age limit of 13, the report found that three quarters of children aged 10 to 12 already had accounts.
Ms Longfield suggested there would be a benefit from compulsory digital literacy lessons for year six and seven pupils to help them learn about the emotional side of social media.
The report also noted there was a role for parents to help them navigate the emotional rollercoaster of the negative aspects of social media.
Read the full report here.