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Is peak social media behind us? Fewer Norwegian children using social media than two years ago

Despite a spate of recent headlines about how children in the US are using social media more than ever before, new results from Norway tell a different story.

Have we already moved beyond peak social media?

Despite a spate of recent headlines about how children in the US are using social media more than ever before, new results from Norway tell a different story.

Kids 9 – 11 less likely to use Tiktok, Instagram, or Snapchat

Every year since 2006, the Norwegian Media Authority has carried out its “Children and Media Survey” to provide an overall overview of how children aged 9 to 18 use digital media. 

The survey includes responses from about 3,200 children from across the country, as well as the responses of 2,200 parents. 

The latest version of the survey, which was published on September 21 (link in Norwegian), finds that fewer of the youngest Norwegian children are using social media than they were in 2020.

In particular, the survey found, fewer kids in the 9 – 11 age range are using social media.

Among those children, 24% currently use Snapchat, which is 20% less than in 2020.

Instagram use in that group dropped from 18% to 7%, and Tiktok use dropped from 54% to 40%.

Across the board, less social media use among 9 and 10 year-olds

Overall, the survey found that 48% percent of Norwegian 9-year-olds are active on social media in 2022, compared to 51% in 2020.

For 10-year-olds, that figure dropped from 65% in 2020 to 56% in 2022.

Among all the Norwegian 9 to 18-year-olds surveyed, the survey found that YouTube use had dropped from 95% to 91%.

Overall Tiktok use in the group increased from 65% to 73%, and Discord use increased from 29% to 36%.

The Google search service is also used by many (82%), while Messenger is used by almost six out of ten.

Furthermore, half of the surveyed youths use Google Maps, around four in ten use Teams or Zoom, more than two in ten use Twitch (24%), and almost two in 10 use Reddit (19%).

Interestingly, about 16% of the surveyed youths said that they first got their own YouTube account at “age 6 or younger,” with another 24% indicating they got their own YouTube account at age 7 or 8.

In total, about 85% of the surveyed youths indicated that they got their own YouTube account before the age of 13, versus 71% in 2020.

YouTube says on its website that children must be at least 13 to have their own account.

Most Norwegian youth still use social media

It is still the case that about 90% of Norwegian children aged 9-18 are on some form of social media. 

Likewise, about half of Norway’s nine- and ten-year-olds use social media, even though officially children are not allowed to be on social media until they are 13 years old.

The researchers are not sure about the reasons for the recent drop in social media use among this youngest age group.

Mari Velsand, the director of the Norwegian Media Authority, said the decline may indicate that parents becoming increasingly reluctant to allow their kids to use social media.

In Norway, she said, “increased attention to privacy challenges, and the fact that some of these services have content that is not intended for children, can come into play.”

Velsand also said that parents should familiarize themselves with the age limits set for the various services, and what kind of content the children may be exposed to on different platforms before they gain access. 

“It is important to be aware that by giving children access to services intended for older age groups, they can access content that may be both unpleasant and frightening for some,” she said. They also risk being exposed to targeted advertising, she added.

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Douglas Heingartner

Douglas Heingartner

Douglas Heingartner, the editor of PsychNewsDaily, is a journalist based in Amsterdam. He has written about science, technology, and more for publications including The New York Times, The Economist, Wired, the BBC, The Washington Post, New Scientist, The Associated Press, IEEE Spectrum, Quartz, The Village Voice, The Los Angeles Times, Frieze, and others. His Google Scholar profile is here, his LinkedIn profile is here, and his Muck Rack profile is here.