The rise of children’s social networking sites
It has been reported that in 2016, children aged between three and four were spending an average of eight hours and 18 minutes on the internet per week, up nearly an hour-and-a-half from 2015.
According to this report, by the time they reach their early teens they are spending more than 20 hours a week online (The Guardian).
With this in mind, due to the obvious dangers that face young children who use social networking channels such as online grooming and bullying, it is not surprising that we are seeing a rise in ‘child-friendly’ social networking sites.
Parents and guardians are being advised to convince their children to avoid the more mainstream platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, in favour of these new ‘safe’ sites.
‘Over 20,000 children aged 13 and under try to cheat the age limit and sneak into Facebook every day”
Social media may seem like a fairly recent invention but if we think back before the days of tweeting and snapchatting there was Myspace, Bebo and MSN Messenger to name a few, where unsuspecting young people could instantly talk to people they had never met through their computer. It seems that the development of technology has bought with it the increase of children’s susceptibility to risk and vulnerability, creating new channels for them to be targeted through.
So how can these new sites help?
As well as having tightened security and being heavily monitored, these sites are focused on allowing fun and appropriate communication between friends in a safe environment.
Internetmatters.org have listed the top safe sites for children that feature fun games and contests but also “give you a chance to use them as a teaching tool to get them sharing safely”.
A good idea?
One debate this subject has raised in our office is whether we should be pleased that there are safer alternatives to offer our children out there, or whether these are just creating another platform for young people to be targeted on; with some people of the belief that we should discourage children from using these websites and platforms at all and that creating child versions of them just makes this a harder task as parents.
We would love to know your thoughts on the subject, let us know by using the comments section below or tweet us @PhewUK.
NSPCC and O2 have teamed up to help children stay safe online – find out more here about how they can help you educate them here.
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