Six in 10 American parents believe children under 13 shouldn’t be on social media at all. 

Our online study asked 2,000 parents of kids ages 5 to 18 about their views on social media, especially when it comes to their own children. It found that 61% think teens that age are still too young to be online. 

While nearly half of all respondents have allowed their kids to access social media (47%), another 31% don’t allow them to create accounts on any platform.

Of those whose kids are already online, 69% think their children are mature enough to be there, and 60% say it’s important for them to feel connected

However, most said they have a strict curfew when it comes to their child’s social media consumption (88%). 

Respondents typically allow their kids to have between two and three hours (2.3 average) of social media time per week, although Gen X parents (42-57) stood out as the most permissive (2.7 average). 

But for Dr. Devorah Heitner, author of “Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World,” keeping children safe on social media should involve more than trying to limit their exposure: 

“It’s so important to mentor our kids so that we know they are making the best possible decisions when they’re not with us. If we only monitor them, then we’re going to miss things, and our relationships with our kids becomes about catching them doing the wrong thing as opposed to teaching them how to do the right thing.” 

The survey arrives on the heels of Instagram’s newly launched parental controls, which will allow parents to set limits on their teens’ screen time and monitor who they follow and who follows them.

Before the launch, nine in 10 respondents said they “always” monitor their child’s social media activity for their security and protection (89%). 

  • That may be because most worry their children will encounter cyberbullying and other dangers through social platforms (63%). 
  • To encourage online safety, 87% of parents have told their kids not to share personal information online and keep their social media profiles private (72%). 
  • Additionally, 63% encourage their kids to be careful who they accept as “friends” or follow online.

“You want to support your child, and that could include some monitoring,” said Heitner. “I think a lot of parents are interested in covertly monitoring, but I think you want to overtly monitor and have them show you things they’re doing, especially talk about who they may be in contact with online.” 

Heitner also added that establishing trust between parents and children can go a long way. “If (your kids) see something that makes them uncomfortable, if they’re in a situation where they’re worried about a friend harming themselves or others or if they’re concerned about their friend’s mental health – they need to come to you,” she said.

Infographic: kids and social media with summary stats and graphics showing the results of the OnePoll survey of parents

Online survey with 2,000 parents of kids ages 5 to 18, conducted by OnePoll from February 28th to March 2nd 2022. As members of AAPOR – the American Association for Public Opinion Research, OnePoll researchers adhere to the principles and actions set out in the AAPOR Code.