Have we moved past the peak of social media yet?
Despite a spate of new headlines about how kids in the US are using social media more than ever, new findings from Norway tell a different story.
Canary in the coal mine? Children aged 9-11 are less likely to use Tiktok, Instagram and especially Snapchat
Each year since 2006, the Norwegian Media Authority has been conducting its ‘Kids and Media Survey’ to provide an overall picture of how children are doing in the Ages 9 to 18 use digital media.
The survey includes responses from approximately 3,200 children from across the country, as well as responses from 2,200 parents.
The latest version of the survey, published on September 21 (link in Norwegian), finds that fewer the youngest Norwegian children use social media than they do were in 2020.
Specifically, the survey found that fewer children aged 9 to 11 use social media.
Of these children, 24% are currently using Snapchat, down 20% from 2020.
Instagram usage into this group dropped from 18% to 7% and Tiktok usage dropped from 54% to 40%.
Generally less social media use among 9- and 10-year-olds
Overall, the survey found that 48% of Norwegian 9-year-olds will be active on social media in 2022 , compared to 51% in 2020.
For 10-year-olds, this figure dropped from 65% in 2020 to 56% in 2022.
Across all Norwegian 9-18 year olds surveyed, the survey found that YouTube usage dropped from 95% to 91%.
Overall usage of Tiktok in the group increased from 65% to 73% and Discord usage from 29% to 36%.
The Google search service is also used by many (82% ), while Messenger is used by nearly six out of ten.
Furthermore, half of the young people surveyed use GoogleMaps, around four in ten use Teams or Zoom, more than two in ten use Twitch (24%) and almost two in ten use Reddit (19%).
Interestingly, about 16% of the teens surveyed said they first created their own YouTube account when they were “age 6 or younger, and another 24% indicated that they have their own YouTube account around the age of 7 or 8.
Overall, about 85% of teens surveyed said they had their own YouTube account before the age of 13, up from 71% in 2020.
YouTube says on its website that children must be at least 13 years old to have their own account.
Most Norwegian youth still use social media
It is still the case that around 90% of Norwegian children aged 9 to 18 use social media in some form.
Similarly, about half of 9 and 10 year olds in Norway use social media, although children are officially not allowed to use social media until they are 13 years old.
Researchers are unsure of the reasons for the recent decline in social media use in this youngest age group.
Mari Velsand, Director of the Norwegian Media Authority, said the drop could indicate that parents are increasingly reluctant to allow their children to use social media.
In Norway, she said, an increased awareness of privacy challenges and the fact that some of these services have content not intended for children may come into play.”
Velsand also said parents should familiarize themselves with the age limits set for the different services and what type of content the children may be exposed to on different platforms before being granted access.
“It’s important to realize that by having access to services for older age groups, children can access content that can be both uncomfortable and frightening for some,” she said. You also risk being exposed to targeted advertising, she added.
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