Pre-teens are vulnerable to ‘significant emotional risk’ on social media

January 4, 2018 Published by

The Children’s Commissioner urges both schools and parents to prepare children with adequate skills before venturing into social media


This morning’s report from Children’s Commissioner Anne Longford warns that pre-teens are vulnerable to ‘significant emotional risk’ on social media as they make their transition from Primary to Secondary school.

The 42-page report titled ‘Life in Likes’ reveals that children as young as ten are becoming dependent on social media to boost their self-worth, by using engagement from followers, likes, etc. as a measure of approval online.



“I want to see children living healthy digital lives. That means parents engaging more with what their children are doing online.


Just because a child has learnt the safety messages at primary school does not mean they are prepared for all the challenges that social media will present.


It means a bigger role for schools in making sure children are prepared for the emotional demands of social media. And it means social media companies need to take more responsibility.”


Anne Longford, Children’s Commissioner



Up until today, research into the usage and behaviour of children on social media websites – such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram – has been scarce, as children aren’t legally allowed to have an account until they are at least 13 years old. However, it is difficult to determine who abides by the rules imposed by social network groups; there are no formal checks, so children can very easily lie about their age when they sign up. This has led the Children’s Commissioner to call on these firms to take more responsibility, bringing in stricter rules and regulations for those who sign up for their services, to avoid children being put at risk. Failure to do so, she says, could ‘leave a generation of children growing up chasing likes and false ideals’.

The report also turns it’s attention to schools, stating that they are currently ill-equipped to prepare and teach children to manage the emotional demands of social media. The positive exposure that may come from social media can easily lead to addiction, while the negative interactions (such as cyberbullying) have their own problems; children need to develop the social and emotional skill sets needed to cope with both ends of the scale, and become responsible digital citizens.

Dr Gummer provides some insight into what schools and parents can do, in order to better prepare pre-teens for the world of social media.


(They can) provide opportunities for children to get their validation and self-worth from other things such as social clubs, organised activities.


Put them in a situation where they put their phones down and participate in something. Where they can be in real, face-to-face interactions and develop meaningful relationships with people.


The world is becoming more digital, so you cannot just expect children to cope with the demands of social media right away – so we need to steadily introduce things to them earlier on. So it is important to provide them with opportunities to ease their transition into the digital world.


Tags: , ,

Categorised in: , ,

This post was written by Oomar Mauthoor

Write your comment...

« »

Recently Added