Born Social 2020: digital uses for children under 13


Discover the favorite social networks of 11-12 year olds in 2020, their rate of equipment with smartphones and their relationship to brands on the Internet.

The study deciphers the digital uses of young adolescents. © Jacob Lund –

The Heaven agency and the Génération Numérique association are joining forces for the 5th year by publishing the Born Social study, which observes the digital behavior of 11-12 year olds. Although legally prohibited for children under 13, social networks are today the playground for this young generation, often equipped with digital tools from an early age. Let’s discover together the results of this study, carried out thanks to testimonies and answers to a questionnaire of 200 children.

87% of 12-year-olds have a smartphone

87% of 12-year-olds have their own smartphone. That’s 17 points more than for 11-year-olds. The real peak of equipment occurs around 10 years (we go from 8% to 33% between 9 and 10 years). Thus before their 13 years, 87% of pre-adolescents are already equipped and connected.

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In terms of equipment, we can note that 23% of children have iPhones against 68% an Android smartphone. These proportions are similar to those observed for the entire French population (24% of iOS in July 2020 according to Kantar).

21% of kids who own a smartphone believe they spend too much time on their phones and on social media. What if this phenomenon of addiction came from the parents? 2 in 10 children think that their parents spend too much time on their mobile devices.

Parents also use their children’s phones to geolocate them in 34% of cases. Among children who are not geolocated, 65% would agree to be.

YouTube in front of Snapchat, WhatsApp, TikTok and Instagram

Social media isn’t the number one concern for 11-12 year olds when they’re on their phones. In fact, messages (SMS) are in first place, ahead of messaging applications (Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.) and online video games (Fortnite, etc.), which are particularly popular with boys.

8 out of 10 children say that all of their app accounts are in private mode. Only a tiny minority of boys report that all of their accounts are public. More than half of them do not publish anything: over the last 7 days, 57% of respondents said they had not posted anything on their social networks. Only 14% publish regularly (more than 6 posts per week). The number of contacts is limited since 78% say they have less than 50 contacts on their main application.

The 11-12 year olds are also very mixed on the reputation we give ourselves on social networks. 34% find their image to be very important, 36% find it only moderately important and 30% do not pay attention to it.

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YouTube is the application most used by young audiences with almost 60% of use, far ahead of Snapchat (42.3%), WhatsApp (39.8%) and TikTok (39.2%). Instagram is surprisingly far behind with only 22.7%.

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What young people think of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat …


Facebook is not very popular with the younger generation. It is seen by 11-12 year olds as “not very fun stuff”, mainly because of the presence of parents, the risk of bad encounters but also because of the not very entertaining content.


On the Twitter side, the network is almost unused by the youngest, and for the few who use it, it divides. On the one hand it’s a network seen as “cool”, where influencers and other well-known personalities are present, with a lot of humor via memes, and on the other hand it’s a network seen as dark, with violent, negative and sometimes even hateful content.


Instagram, already more popular, is an intriguing network. Not all children are present but they would like it because the older ones use it. It is a platform that creates desirability.


For its part, TikTok enjoys unprecedented popularity with children. Their new idols were born there like Charli d’Amelio, 16, who soon totals 90 million subscribers.


Finally, networks like Snapchat are the most popular for “communicating quickly”. Moreover, another interesting use: 41% of children indicate sending voice messages through these messaging applications.

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During confinement: video games, streaming and influencer videos

This difficult period linked to the unprecedented health crisis was not so badly experienced by the young public, who were able to devote themselves to their online activities such as video games, YouTube or even streaming platforms such as Disney + or Netflix. The significant increase in online activities has led to discoveries of applications and games during confinement such as: Discord, Twitch, Fortnite, Animal Crossing … But children have also discovered many influencers or YouTubers: Squeezie or again Michou (4.6 million subscribers), idol of the young generation.

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Brands, big absent from the daily life of the younger generations

Brands are not an integral part of children’s online daily life: 85% of them say they don’t follow any on social networks. A significant difference can be noted between 12-year-old girls and boys, in fact 27% of them state that they follow at least one.

34% of children say they don’t see ads on social media. This percentage expresses a deep disinterest of very young people for this advertisement, to the point that they have difficulty identifying it when they meet it.

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While most of them aren’t bothered at all by sponsored content from influencers / YouTubers, 34% consider that there is too much. They are much more sensitive to this type of advertising compared to classic advertising which goes twice as unnoticed.