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An analysis that was published in 2022 found that children as young as eight are using social media more than before


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Family|Kids as Young as 8 Are Using Social Media More Than Ever, Study Finds

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/well/family/child-social-media-use.html

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The report highlights a 17 percent increase in screen use among teens and tweens in the last two years — more than in the four years prior.

Credit...Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Kids and teens in America are spending more time than ever using screens and social media, with the number of hours spent online having risen sharply during the pandemic, according to results from a survey released Wednesday.

The survey, published by the nonprofit research organization Common Sense Media, found that overall screen use among teens and tweens increased by 17 percent from 2019 to 2021 — growing more rapidly than in the four years prior. On average, daily screen use went up among tweens (ages 8 to 12) to five hours and 33 minutes from four hours and 44 minutes, and to eight hours and 39 minutes from seven hours and 22 minutes for teens (ages 13 to 18).

The increases reported by the survey are most likely a reflection of the difficulties that families endured with school, child care and social interaction throughout the pandemic, experts said. Of particular concern to some who track screen time is an upswing in social media use among children ages 8 to 12, on platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, even though such platforms require users to be at least 13 because of a law that prohibits companies from collecting data from children.

The findings “don’t surprise me,” said Diana Graber, the founder of Cyberwise, a website for adults who want to help young people use technology safely, and the author of “Raising Humans in a Digital World.” During the pandemic, she said, kids turned to screens for entertainment and to connect with friends, since many didn’t have in-person school or activities.

But, she added, “the huge number of kids using social when they’re so young — it makes me want to cry,” she said. “These social media apps are not designed for children.”

Although technology use increased across the board, screen use was highest among kids from low-income families as well as children of color, which makes sense given that these families were affected most by the pandemic, said Devorah Heitner, the founder of Raising Digital Natives and the author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.”


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