New research published by the Children’s Commissioner looked at the use of social media among children between the ages of 8 and 12. It suggests that a growing number of children in this age group are accessing social media, despite being below the minimum age limit for most platforms. The transition between primary and secondary school was found to be a significant time as social circles were expanding both at school and online.
The report calls on schools to “‘improve teachers’ knowledge about the impacts of social media on children’s wellbeing and encourage peer-to-peer learning”. It argues that digital literacy education should develop children’s ability to look critically at the content they see online and help them understand that algorithms are used to shape the content they see.
Governing boards of both primary and secondary schools should ensure that staff are trained to deliver high quality personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) lessons, which should include the use of social media. Online safety is also a core part of schools’ safeguarding duty.