In a new report, children’s commissioner Anne Longfield spoke to pupils between the ages of 8 and 12 about their use of social media.
Here is what they revealed:
- Pupils feel that it is important to be on social media throughout the day. “Hmm, 24 hours in a day, so I probably use it 18 hours a day,” said Bridie, age 11.
- Some see it as their main hobby. “At break time, we go into the loo that has wifi and use our phones there, because there’s nothing else to do,” said Merran, age 11.
- It can distract them from their homework. "You get another buzz, and another buzz, and another buzz," said 9-year-old Billy. "And then you've just got to go get it – and then you just go off course with your homework."
- Some see the real world through a social-media filter. “It’s nice when you go to the beach or to a waterpark on holiday, and you think: I can show this to people on my Snapchat,” said 7-year-old Luna.
- Pupils use social media to boost their moods. “If you’re in a bad mood at home, you go on social media and you laugh and then you feel better,” said 10-year-old Kam.
- Social media also provides them with moral support. “When I posted that my great-nan had died, on Instagram, people messaged me and I felt better about it,” said Joe, 11.
- But it can also have an adverse effect on their self-esteem. “When someone sent a racist video about me to a group Snapchat, the sad feeling lasted for months,” said 11-year-old Aaron. “I had to keep it in, but I was angry.”
- And they can become dependent on accruing a lot of ‘likes’. “If I got 150 likes, I’d be like, that’s pretty cool,” said Aaron. “It means they like you.”
- Pupils are aware that social media can become addictive. “I worry about my sister posting too much,” said 10-year-old Lucy. “She does 10 posts a day, and it causes arguments…because my mum wants her to stop.”
- Secondary pupils compare the online versions of themselves with celebrities or popular classmates. “If you don’t have designer and expensive things, people will make fun of you,” said 11-year-old Harry. And Aimee, 11, said: “You might compare yourself, ’cause you’re not very pretty compared to them.”
- But social media also offers new career opportunities…and a form of work experience. “Sometimes I do videos myself, so I can feel like a vlogger,” said Annie, 11.
- And it can be educational, in its own way. “On Snapchat you learn about other countries, like Portugal, depending on where the celebrities have their concerts,” said 8-year-old Freya.