MORE than one in seven 12-year-old girls in Scotland spend five hours or more a day on social media, a study has shown.

While 57% of Scottish children this age spend two hours or fewer per school day on social media, messaging people via text, Instagram, Snapchat, or playing online games, 15% of girls are spending at least five hours every school day doing this.

The same research also found life satisfaction scores were lower among children spending seven hours or more a day on social media.

The Growing Up in Scotland survey also found 17% of 12-year-old girls had been bullied or picked on online, compared to 12% of boys this age.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the research looked in detail at the lives of thousands of youngsters across the country who were born between June 2004 and May 2005.

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The latest findings include data collected from 3419 families in 2017-18, when their children were aged 12, with most of them in their second term of S1 at the time.

Initial findings showed “bullying was a relatively common experience with a significant minority of children experiencing it in some form on a regular basis”.

More than two-fifths (43%) of the youngsters said they had been called names, with 10% reporting suffering this on most days.

While most children had never been picked on online, 14% had “experienced this to some degree”.

The research found boys spent less time on social media than girls – with 14% of 12-year-old males saying they did not spend any time on social media on an average school day, compared with 5% of girls this age.

In contrast, 15% of 12-year-old girls said they spend a least five hours on social media on a school day

compared with 10% of boys. Only 4% of 12-year-olds said they had tried smoking a cigarette, with 7% having tried a vaping device.

Although a fifth (20%) had tried alcohol only 1% of all 12-year-olds said they had been drunk.

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While almost two-thirds of children (62%) were classed as being a healthy weight, 36% of 12-year-olds were overweight – including 20% who were obese.

Only 1% of all 12-year-olds were reported as being underweight.

Among those who were overweight, 62% believed they were “about the right size” and 86% of parents thought their child’s weight was normal.

Children’s life satisfaction was measured by asking four questions – including whether they wished their life as different – with the answers giving a maximum score of 20.

On average, children scored 15 “indicating a generally high level of life satisfaction”, the research found.

It added there were no statistically significant difference in the average score for boys and girls.

But it said: “Children who spent less time on social media or messaging tended to have higher life satisfaction than either those who spent a lot of time or those who spent no time on social media.

“Those who spent between 30 minutes and one hour or one to two hours on social media or messaging people on an average school day reported the highest life satisfaction scores (averages of 15.2 and 15.3 respectively).

“In contrast, children who spent seven or more hours daily reported the lowest average score (14.0) and those who spent no time at all on social media on an average school day had lower than average life satisfaction (14.8).”

Last month, £90,000 of funding was announced for a new advice package on healthy use of social media and screen time, produced by the Scottish Youth Parliament and Children’s Parliament.