Social media sites and apps are an important part of how we all use the internet. Younger children may enjoy sites like Animal Jam that do not fit the traditional social media mold, but still allow users to communicate with each other, while older children, teens, and adults, may prefer sites like Facebook, and apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
In a 2018 Pew Research survey, teens were split on whether social media had a mostly positive or mostly negative effect on their lives. The noted positive elements included social media’s role in connecting them with friends and family, easy access to news and information, and meeting others with similar interests. The noted negative effects included bullying, lack of in-person contact, and unrealistic views of others’ lives.1
Most social media sites and apps (including Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter, Instagram, and Musical.ly) require users to be at least 13 years old, though it is not uncommon for youths to be untruthful about their date of birth in order to gain access to the site or app. By accessing these platforms before age 13, young children are at an increased risk of encountering inappropriate content and/or contact from older users.