Children should have social media

Social media use by children and young people

Image source: © Robert Kneschke for

Social media have become an indispensable part of everyday life today. WhatsApp, Instagram and the like are used regularly by many people. You have the The way of communicating changed. Social media are particularly popular with children and young people. As Digital natives grow up with them. Social media are an important part of their communication. But is social media use by children and young people harmless? How often do you use social media? What is the effect?

Social media usage by children and adolescents - numbers

First of all, it is about the use of social media by children and young people in general. The DAK health and the German Center for Addiction Issues at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE) did the study"WhatsApp, Instagram and Co. - social media is so addicting" submitted. On behalf of DAK-Gesundheit, a representative survey of forsa Society for Social Research and Statistical Analyzes mbH. Here were 1001 children and young people between 12 and 17 years of age asked about their use of social media in Germany.

85 percent of those surveyed use according to their own statements social media every day of the week. 8 percent use it five to six days a week. The older the respondents were, the more frequently they used social media. Almost all of the 16 to 17 year olds use social media every day. On average, the children and adolescents spent 3 hours a day with social media. girl spend there more Time on social media as a boy. The duration of use increases with age of young people. The duration of use also seems to be related to the (expected) school leaving certificate. Children and adolescents who are likely to graduate from high school or who already have it use social media for a shorter period of time than children and adolescents with a low or intermediate degree. The use of social media by children and young people seems to be imminent Relationship with age, gender and also the school leaving certificate to stand.

The the most used medium is WhatsApp. 66 percent say they spend most of their time here. With 14 percent lies Instagram in second place, followed by Snapchat with 9 percent. Facebook lies with only 2 percent in 4th place, followed by Google+ with only one percent. Instagram is used more often by girls than boys. Close one and a half hours a day use the children and adolescents her favorite social medium on average. Here, too, girls have a longer period of use. The useful life of the favorite social medium increases again with increasing age. Respondents with no more than a middle school leaving certificate use their favorite medium longer than those who are expected to have a high school diploma.

Effects of using social media


Social media has changed the way we communicate and maintain friendships. So it's not surprising that 43 percent for 12 to 17 year olds keep in touch with a few friends exclusively through social media. 8 percent indicate that they are using all of their Stay in contact with friends exclusively via social media. 9 percent say this of the majority of her friends. 30 percent indicate with nobody to be in contact with her friends exclusively via social media. Younger people tend to say that they do not have any contact with any of their friends solely through social media.

Quarrel with parents

The use of social media by children and young people can lead to arguments with their parents. At 6 percent of the respondents, this is the result of their information often the case. At 16 percent it comes sometimes past 40 percent rarely and at 38 percent never. Among the younger respondents, there are more arguments about social media use. Overall, every fifth person argues with their parents about using social media. For 12 to 13 year olds, it is every third.


Social media use by children and adolescents can also have a negative impact on their sleep. 6 percent get because of their social media usage often too little sleep. At 17 percent it comes sometimes past 36 percent rarely and at 41 percent never. Around a quarter of children and adolescents therefore get too little sleep due to the use of social media. With increasing age gave the respondents more often to get too little sleep at least sometimes because of this.

Social media as a distraction

Every third Respondents (34 percent) also stated that they had used social media, so as not to have to think about unpleasant things. Girls do this proportionally more often than boys. The older the respondents, the more frequently this answer was given.

Uncontrolled use and intellectual preoccupation

Younger respondents in particular indicated social media used secretly to have. Overall have that 14 percentt specified. Your Do not stop using could also 14 percent of 12 to 17 year olds, although others said they should do it urgently. Often felt unhappy have 13 percentwhen they couldn't use social media. 10 percent stated they were often mentally fixated on it when they could use social media again. Girls reported this more often than boys. 9 percent were dissatisfied because they wanted to use social media for longerthan they did. This is more likely to apply to younger people.

Social Media Use by Children and Adolescents - A Danger?

Prof. Dr. According to Rainer Thomasius, the medical director of the German Center for Addiction Issues in Children and Adolescents at the UKE many young people benefit from the use of social media in their identity development. According to him, the social networks would be the Promote the accomplishment of development tasks. In this way, young people could try out different self-portrayals and would immediately receive corresponding feedback from the Internet community without being dependent on where they live. With the many ways to communicate, they would Self-affirmation by peers receive. But also Communication and relationship building could be tried out through social media.

But also through the study negative side the use of social media by children and adolescents has become clear, says Dr. Thomasius. 2.6 percent of 12 to 17 year olds would show problematic use of social media. For girls it is 3.4 percent, for boys 1.9 percent. Every third Affected with problematic use also depressive symptoms on. Depressive symptoms may also cause problematic use of social media, as does a low age and poor family functionality.

A social media addiction or the like is currently not a recognized disorder. In German-speaking countries, addiction researchers would generally have used the term "Internet-related disturbances" agreed, according to Dr. Thomasius. This is a collective term for pronounced disorders and milder degrees of expression.

Prevent problematic use by children and adolescents

Especially Adults should be yours Role model function be aware and use them, says Dr. Thomasius. You should be one Create awareness of the importance of times, spaces and situations without media. Also should Successful experiences, self-efficacy and the constructive handling of failures and stressful situations in real life by parents, educators and teachers be promoted. Likewise should the Media literacy to be trained. In addition, preventive life skills management programs would be offered.

You can find the study here:

"WhatsApp, Instagram and Co. - social media is so addicting"

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About the author J Bohlken