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The impact of social media on 8 – 12 year olds

Life in ‘likes’: Children’s Commissioner report into social media use among 8-12 year olds

This report looks at the impact of social media on children who are moving through the end of primary school and in to secondary school. While there are some positives, the majority of findings are cause for concern.


Children are using communication platforms which are not designed for them. Year 7 children are finding social media hard to manage and are so concerned with their appearances online that it is having an impact on how they behave offline.  Children are becoming dependant on the getting ‘likes’ for things they post on social media and they are spending a disproportionate amount of their time on it.

The commissioner recommends the following:

  • Digital literacy teaching in schools which educates beyond safety to develop children’s critical awareness and resilience.
  • Guidance for parents and teachers to help support children


Social media applications – particularly Snapchat where messages self delete once received – often feature in children’s criminal cases. The platform encourages sexting and extreme bullying.  The digital evidence of this behaviour is regularly used against children in criminal proceedings. See our update on Overview of guidance on sexting and children.