back to article A quarter of underage children have social networking profiles

One in four underage children have profiles on social networking sites, according to research by media regulator Ofcom. The survey found that 25 per cent of eight to 12-year-olds surveyed have a social networking profile. Children under 13 are not allowed to have a profile on the major platforms, including Facebook, Bebo and …


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  1. David Webb


    I believe you'll find that it's 13 because the companies in question are American and are therefore beholden to the Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) which means for anyone under 13 to sign up, they need verfiable permission from a parent.

    1. Pablo


      And I think it may be counter-productive. They made the law too big a hassle to comply with so companies chose to bar children under 13 entirely. But predictably a great many of them sign up anyway, either with or without their parents' knowledge. And Facebook et al have neither the motivation nor the ability to actually enforce the rule.

      So instead of having an open situation where younger children could have extra protection or supervision if needed, they have to hide and nobody really knows how many there are.

  2. Nigel Callaghan

    I blame the parents...

    Interesting - 87% of the parents ARE aware that their children have these profiles, and do nothing about it, despite the rules about being over 13. Can't really blame Facebook then, can they?

  3. Graham Marsden

    I blame the parents...

    ... the Internet is *not* a child-minding service!

  4. loopy lou

    Underage children??

    To distinguish them from underage adults maybe? Underage dogs?? How can a child be underage anyway. That's what a child is.

    Ok, so it makes a little bit of sense in context, but you don't even mean that "a quarter of human beings aged below 13 have social networking profiles" (thank god). Its just 8-12 year olds. So if a 7 year old isn't "underage" in Offcom parlance what are they?

    And as for "the parents of 17 per cent of the owners of social networking profiles" - good grief, who are these people and how did they find the time?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      OK, it's a fair cop but...

      the problem is all those damn games where you need to get 50, 500, 5000 friends to join your "team".

      so, my kids play those games, and keep creating new profiles so they can be friends with themselves, and meet the "team" targets. They've probably own 17% of social networking profiles by now. I carefully monitor their behaviour, and can confirm that they have thoroughly poisoned the marketing databases with false information.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Because of the kids now privacy are our major goals while forgetting that trapped inside this many "closed groups" some bad issues must be happening, and because ain't that huge group of "watchers" to watch those closed groups thing bad will continue to happen.

  6. Fred 1

    Only a quarter?

    Both my boys 10 & 12 are on Facebook as are most of their classmates. I wonder how many "18" year olds are really registered on there. They are part of the generation that has grown up with web access, and I think it would be wrong to exclude them from this aspect of it.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Will somebody plese think of the children....

    proberbly most of these kids are a bit more net savvy than the parents and should give them lessons on online security...

    We made sure our daughter knew all about internet safety and how to avoid getting viruses and other net nasties on the computer before she was alowed to "fly solo" on hte interwebs..

    as far as the scare mongering goes that a kiddie fiddler is behind every online persona, she is wise to that. It is not as common as what the newspapers (who are loosing customers because of the net) are putting the fear into peoples minds that if a kid slips up and tells someone their name that they are going to be abducted....

    Its near enough the same talk you give them before you let them go outside by themselves (a far more dangerous place).

    she is 15, and has never had a virus or trojan on her pc, she has never opend an email with dodgy attachments, as far as spam goes, near enough none existant. regularly changes passwords.

    1. Elmer Phud

      You can't trust old people

      I know someone who is about 70 and is constantly being told they should be on the internet.

      If they did manage to get connected they are the sort of person who would fall foul of spammers, phishers and other con artists.

      This is someone who has trouble using a PC as a word processor, has a laptop with the original anti-virus from new - never updated after six years and ism paranoid about having thier life stolen from them.

      As an adult I have a lot more trust in children than other adults who would have us believe that age gives wisdom (and then moan about having thier bank account emptied)

      Think of the Children!!!

      I do - and I welcome thier cynical approach to groan-ups, we've a lot to learn from them.

  8. Hywel Thomas

    Mine are on there

    My kids, 10 and 12 have facebook profiles. My wife and I are friends, and the email updates come to our accounts. All privacy settings are on max. A lot of their friends from school are on there, but I'd say the majority of the parents are aware - parents are friends on there too.

    It's not so much Facebook as access to Farmville.

  9. Winkypop Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Get em young. keep em for life...

    Big Corporation likes a servile drone.

  10. Harry

    "How can a child be underage anyway"

    Children are people aged 0 to about 14.

    By definition therefore, "under-age children" can ONLY be those who are yet to be born.

    And they must be pretty clever to get themselves a profile on facebook or similar, unless somebody who HAS already been born has helped them to do it.

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