Concerns Over Social Media Safety Deepen, Popularity Of Facebook Among Children Declines

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According to a report that was published by Ofcom, the popularity of Facebook among children decreased last year as more young people prefer Instagram to post their social media updates.

While Facebook continued to be the most popular social media site among 12 to 15-year-olds, only 31 percent of the people in this age range identified it as their main site or app, a decreased from the 40 percent in 2017.

However, Instagram has enjoyed an increase in popularity, with 65 percent of young people currently using it. 23 percent nominated Facebook’s photo-sharing app as their main social media platform, an increase from 14 percent in 2017.

Whatsapp has also enjoyed an increase in popularity among young teenagers, with the number using the messaging app increasing from 32 percent to 43 percent.

The figures come amid the intensifying pressure on Facebook, the owner of both Instagram and Whatsapp, to impose better regulations on the content on its website in order to protect children.

MPs have urged for greater oversight to be conducted by the tech giant after it emerged that Molly Russell, a 14-year-old, committed suicide in 2017 after viewing images that are related to self-harm on social media.

Molly’s father, Ian Russell, has said that he believes Instagram is partly to blame for the death of his daughter. Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has warned that the sites could face a ban if they do not remove harmful content.

The report also revealed that an increase in cyberbullying through social media sites, with 11 percent of 12 to 15-year-olds claiming that they have been bullied online. In addition, nine percent said that they have been bullied through text or messaging apps, twice the level that was recorded in 2017.

Last night, Sir Nick Clegg, the head of communications of Facebook, promised to improve the strategy of the company for protecting children on its social media platforms.

In an interview with the BBC, the former deputy prime minister said that the company will do “whatever it takes” to make young people safer on both Facebook and Instagram.

An online safety expert at Smoothwall, Adele Abbiss, stated: “Social media and technology companies have a huge responsibility to protect those most vulnerable.”

She added: “We need to see an invested response from all social media companies to pour more resources into safeguarding both children and adults – a combination of automated technology and employing more people to help combat offensive and harmful behaviour.”