29th March 2023 – (London) The number of children using social media platforms TikTok and Snapchat in the UK rose last year, according to a report published by media regulator Ofcom. The survey of children’s and parents’ online attitudes revealed that around half of those aged between 3 and 17 are now using TikTok and Snapchat, with both apps showing a slight increase in popularity in the past year.
TikTok is now being used by 53 per cent of children, up from 50 per cent, while Snapchat’s usage rose to 46 per cent, up from 42 per cent. The report also found that the proportion of 3- and 4-year-olds using Snapchat had risen to 17 per cent in 2022, up from 12 per cent the previous year.
Despite their increasing popularity, both platforms have come under fire for user safety concerns. Governments around the world have banned TikTok from official devices, citing anxieties over its relationship with the Chinese state. Meanwhile, Snapchat has been criticised for not doing enough to remove underage users from its platform.
Ofcom’s annual report on attitudes towards media also found that children’s usage of YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram remained steady. 88 per cent of children reported using YouTube, 55 per cent use WhatsApp, and 41 per cent use Instagram. However, the popularity of Meta’s Facebook platform declined from 40 per cent to 34 per cent.
The report also highlighted that children of all ages reported choosing to watch “dramatic” content in various forms when selecting TV shows and films to watch. This suggests that children are becoming more interested in mature content at a younger age, which could be a cause for concern for parents.
A TikTok spokesperson responded to the safety concerns by stating that government bans were based on “fundamental misconceptions” around TikTok’s safety protocols. They added that the company takes the safety of its users very seriously and has implemented various measures to protect them.
Snapchat also defended its record on underage users, stating that criticism of its efforts to remove them from the platform was unfair. They claimed that they block and delete tens of thousands of attempts by underage UK users to create Snapchat accounts every month.