1/3 of kids ages 7-9 use social media apps; Parents cite challenges monitoring activity

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(NewsNation Now) — Teenagers creating TikTok dance videos, messaging each other through Snapchat and growing their social media accounts are daily activities in the modern digital era, but some parents aren’t confident that their children can stay safe online.

Almost half of parents of children ages 10 to 12 and 32% of parents of kids ages 7 to 9 reported their child used social media apps in the first six months of the year, according to a new national poll from the University of Michigan.

Parents report that at least one-third of children and pre-teens use social media apps; however, a good portion of parents don’t monitor their habits online.

According to the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, one in six parents aren’t using any parental controls on their child’s social apps.

While most parents use some parental control feature, nearly two-thirds prefer site blocking as the go-to method, according to the poll. Yet, one in three parents said their child had been taught about the safe use of social media apps in school.

According to the poll, 39% of parents say it’s too time-consuming to monitor their child’s internet use, 21% can’t get parental controls set up and 32% know their kids are going to find a way around those controls.

The poll comes on the heels of last month’s Facebook data breach, which showed the social media giant is very much aware of how damaging social media can be to forming young minds.

Thirty-two percent of teen girls said when they feel bad about their bodies, Instagram makes them feel worse. In addition, doctors have seen an increase in teen girls developing tics or physical jerking movements, and that anxiety, depression and TikTok could be contributing factors.

Several medical journal articles reported the teen girls were watching TikTok videos of people who said they had Tourette’s syndrome. 

Dr. John Duffy, a clinical psychologist, told NewsNation this is an extreme circumstance, and it’s rare, but it does happen.

“Every once in a while, they stumble upon a hashtag, #tics, #tourettes, and they go down the rabbit hole for hours. But if you’re depressed, anxious, and a teenager, there’s this perfect storm because you’re kind of suggestible. If you watch this often enough and hear these familiar phrases — “I’m really upset about this,” “I’m anxious about this,” “I’m sad about this,” you start to adopt some of the behavior that is the hallmark of that disorder,” Duffy explained.

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