Document Type



Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Information Science, Information science (social aspects)


This study presents an analysis of the age verification mechanisms in place for 10 popular social media apps used by children: Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Viber, Skype, Facebook, HouseParty, Discord, Messenger, WhatsApp. According to CyberSafeIreland, these are the apps most used by younger children, including underage children, i.e. below the age of 13 which is defined as the minimum age for use of such services (16 years in the case of WhatsApp).

Data collected from CyberSafeIreland’s annual survey of children’s use of social media shows that Snapchat was the most popular app in 2018/19 with 33% of children, aged 8-13, using it. WhatsApp is the second most popular app with this age group with 28% of 8-13 year old children using it. Instagram is used by 23% of children in this bracket while TikTok (formerly known as is used by 21% and is the 4th most popular app with 8 – 13 year age bracket. All of the online services in this group have a minimum age restriction of 13, with the exception of WhatsApp, which has an age restriction of 16, as laid out in their terms and conditions. The purpose of this study was to test of the robustness of the age verification mechanisms deployed by these services.