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TikTok, Snapchat growing in popularity among UK children, regulator data shows

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows TikTok app logo

By Martin Coulter

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of children using TikTok and Snapchat rose last year in Britain, according to research published by media regulator Ofcom.

Around half of those aged between 3 and 17 use TikTok and Snapchat, figures collected as part of the watchdog’s annual survey of children's and parents’ online attitudes showed.

The study found a slight increase in both apps’ popularity in the past year, with TikTok now being used by 53% of children (up from 50%), and Snapchat by 46% (up from 42%).

Both companies have faced mounting pressure over user safety in recent months.

Various governments around the world have banned TikTok from official devices, citing anxieties over its relationship with the Chinese state, while Snapchat has been criticised for not removing more underage users from its platform.

Ofcom’s annual report on attitudes towards media found children’s usage of YouTube, Whatsapp and Instagram remained steady (88%, 55% and 41%, respectively), while the popularity of Meta's Facebook platform declined (from 40% to 34%).

“Children of all ages reported choosing to watch ‘dramatic’ content in various forms when selecting TV shows and films to watch," the report said.

Ofcom also found the proportion of 3- and 4-year-olds using Snapchat had risen to 17% in 2022, up from 12% the previous year.

A TikTok spokesperson said government bans were based on “fundamental misconceptions” around TikTok’s safety protocols.

A Snap spokesperson said criticism of its record on underage users misrepresented its efforts, saying it blocks and deletes tens of thousands of attempts by underage UK users to create Snapchat accounts monthly.

(Reporting by Martin Coulter; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)