Children under five are becoming addicted to social media

A report by Barnado’s has shared the concerns of support workers regarding the emotional development of very young children when they interact with social media.

The data found that more than 60 per cent of professionals who have dealt with vulnerable children indicated they were worried about under-fives using social networks, not only because of exposure to inappropriate content but also how it may affect their communication skills.

The report’s findings were based on testimony from 80 support workers who work with under-18s at 30 Barnardo’s projects across the UK.

As well as concerns for children aged five and under, the report also suggests that platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter are having a “disturbing” impact on the mental health of under-18s.

“Worries regarding addiction and the substitution of time spent with family for the use of social media were issues that were felt to cause problems related to mental health and emotional wellbeing in this age group,” the report said.

“Key apprehensions included the failure to think creatively, interact with others socially and manage their own emotions.”

Half of the support workers surveyed said that 78 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds had been exposed to unsuitable or harmful content online.

The same age group also reported prominent incidents of cyberbullying (80 per cent), sharing of personal content (87 per cent), online grooming (78 per cent) and family tensions due to social media use (78 per cent) in the last six months.

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