Social media is awash in questionable content, particularly for kids, but there are some corners of the internet that parents trust more than others, according to a survey from PrivacyHQ.
By Eric Griffith
I have a 4-year-old, and the only apps he uses unsupervised on the tablet are kid-specific: They include PBS Kids, plus his curated-by-me Netflix and Paramount+ profiles. He sometimes uses YouTube, but I supervise that in person, so he doesn’t click off into something he shouldn’t see.
Some parents consider YouTube the safest of the social media options available for kids, according to a survey from PrivacyHQ. The advocacy site (and VPN reviewer) surveyed 1,013 parents with kids below age 18–659 of whom have kids under 13 between Jan. 7–11, and key among the findings is that 69% of parents believe social media has an influence on kids.
Children replicating dangerous trends on TikTok and other platforms is a big worry; remember the Tide Pod Challenge? YouTube has long been awash in bizarre, children-targeting videos. The most-watched content on YouTube is for—or features—children. Which is probably why YouTube created the standalone YouTube Kids app. Though it had a rocky start, YouTube Kids is now the platform parents think is the safest for young viewers, at 68%. Regular YouTube is not far behind at 56% of parents who agree. TikTok is at the bottom at 35%.
Safety is the key; it’s near-impossible for today’s parents to keep kids offline. Ninety-five percent of parents said they’ve talked with their kids about some form of internet safety, but the numbers are low on the specifics. Fifty-one percent of respondents have talked about cyber predators and never meeting a stranger in person. The stats are under 50% on everything else, including cyberbullying, trolls, addiction, and not posting personal info.
Age 13 is the magic cutoff for most parents—73% said that kids shouldn’t have social media access before then. The majority also all agree with statements about setting restrictions and the potential social media has to be addictive, bad for mental health, and outright dangerous.
Yet not only do 57% of parents let their children under 13 use social media—in particular, YouTube and Instagram, mostly to play games or watch videos-49% let kids under 13 create their own social media accounts. In theory, most social media platforms ban kids under 13 to comply with the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, though it’s easy to get around that.
Kids used to want to be famous for things like singing or acting. But 64% of parents say their kid has already mentioned how much they want to be an influencer. Eighty-one percent said they’d support that; 31% of those who let their under-13 kid use social media did it to support their kid’s content creation dreams. (After all, it may pay for college or a new house one day.)
Still, parents claim they don’t want their kids to use social media as much as they do. With the average American spending 1,300 hours a year on social in 2020, according to Uswitch, that makes good sense. So set a good example for the youth—save your TikTok viewing for your private time, like that 5 minutes you get in the bathroom. Assuming your influencer kid isn’t knocking on the door the whole time.