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Underage Social Media Use ‘Rife’ in Surrey”

Published on: 25 Jul, 2017
Updated on: 27 Jul, 2017

By Anna McGee

Underage social media use is ‘rife’ in Surrey according to a report produced by Eagle Radio.

From a dataset of 870 pupils, it was found that 85% of students in school year 7 had an Instagram account, while being a year under the age to legally use the site.

85% of the same pupils also had a WhatsApp account, for which the age restriction is 16+.

81% of these students also had an account with the photo-sharing app Snapchat, which also has an age limit of 13+.

Other statistics gleaned included the fact that more than half of students in Surrey believed that an Islamaphobic tweet was more likely to result in a positive reaction from friends of the platforms rather than criminal charges.

Students said they felt a ban from social media would be worse than going to prison as a punishment for online crime.

The report concluded that underage social media use was a pressing issue in Surrey, and social media legal training is an essential tool in educating pupils in the Surrey area about the dangers of social media use.

David Munro

Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, David Munro, said: “As the internet and social media continue to evolve, so must the education we provide to people on how to use it safely and responsibly”

More than 7,000 children have received social media legal training in schools. 81 sessions in 26 secondary schools funded by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey concluded that underage social media use was ‘rife’ in the Surrey area.

85% of students in year 7 (aged 11-12) are using apps with age restrictions of 13+. 98% of Surrey students own and smartphone during their first year of secondary school.

A House of Lords report (Growing up with the Internet, 2017) described education about the risks of social media as “as vital as reading and writing”. However, the ‘Online and Social Media Law and Ethics’ project in Surrey remains the only initiative of its kind in the UK, both in terms of scale and core media law content. It covers a variety of areas including sexting, indecent images, hate speech and cyberbullying.


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