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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Survey finds 7.5 million Facebook users under the minimum age

5/10/2011 11:17:00 AM

Last month, I wrote about how tweens on both sides of the Atlantic were opening Facebook accounts in record numbers, either flaunting the social network’s minimum age requirements on their own or doing so with the tacit approval of their parents.

Now, a new survey published in the June issue of Consumer Reports confirms this growing trend, reporting that as many as 7.5 million U.S. Facebook users are under the minimum age of 13, with more than five million under the age of 10.

The report is consistent with the results of the EU Kids Online study released in April that found 38 percent of 9 to 12-year-old European children are using social-networking sites, with more than one in five having a Facebook presence.

Jeff Fox, technology editor for Consumer Reports, said it was troubling that a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children's use of Facebook.

In a press statement, Consumer Reports said that using Facebook presents children and their friends and family with safety, security and privacy risks. “In the past year, the use of Facebook has exposed more than five million online U.S. households to some type of abuse including virus infections, identity theft, and – for a million children – bullying.”

In a statement issued ahead of the report's release, Facebook said that “recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don't circumvent a system or lie about their age.”

The company went on to say that “we appreciate the attention that these reports and other experts are giving this matter and believe this will provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, safety advocates, and Internet services to focus on this area, with the ultimate goal of keeping young people of all ages safe online.”

A straw poll of my 11-year-old daughter’s friends from her middle school here in Westchester County, New York supports the Consumer Reports findings. As many as 50 percent of the 6th grade students have Facebook pages, with some boasting 200 or more friends!

That’s not to say that their parents don’t care about their wellbeing; I know first-hand that the overwhelming majority of parents are deeply committed to their family’s online safety. Instead, they are giving in to a rising trend of tech-savvy young kids who have grown up in a smartphone world and see the Internet and Facebook as a natural way to express themselves.

Is your tween on Facebook? What has been your experience? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!


Comments:
Comment by The 24/7 Gamer, posted 1/6/2013, 7:29 AM:

Why do you all care so much about this? IT'S GAMING!!! Let us play Black Ops and leave us alone.
Comment by Cristina, posted 10/16/2011, 4:39 PM:

Are you the parent of a minor that uses the internet? Please be aware that there are predators of all kinds on line that see what your child does, to whom he or she talks. Be an educated parent and stay alert. Inform yourself about how to prevent predators contacting your child. Use the internet in your benefit, be wise..be caring....be lovely.....
Comment by Stanley, posted 5/18/2011, 9:48 AM:

After reading this article I saw the article "Why you should say yes to Facebook" and read that. In it you seem to be suggesting that parents help their kids circumvent the age-restriction rather than forbidding underage use: Now, I am not condoning falsifying your child's age, but maybe there is a case to be made for accommodating your young teen or tween's request with some kind of supervised joint effort.
Comment by Online Moms, posted 5/12/2011, 1:24 AM:

It is quite shocking to know that there are so many users on Facebook who are below the minimum age required. As a parent, they should be stopped as there can be many negative impacts on them due to this. Some necessary steps should be definitely taken immediately by social networking sites to avoid this.
Comment by heather, posted 5/10/2011, 1:16 PM:

Why doesn't Facebook just create a site that interfaces with Facebook but has only kid-friendly links and possibly is monitored? There's a big void for kids too old for Club Penguin but not yet 13 years old. There's got to be a market for that.
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