According to a report by the British newspaper the Daily Mail more than 34 percent of children between the ages of nine and 12 have a Facebook profile despite users having to officially be 13 years old to have a profile.
Simon Milner from Facebook UK and Sonia Livingstone, a professor of social psychology at the London School of Economics have said that the increasing use of young children of Facebook could potentially lead to these children being exposed to pornography or being the victims of online grooming.
Facebook states that a user must be 13 years old to have a profile but Simon Milner admitted that there is no way for Facebook to stop children from lying about their age and creating a profile anyway.
Professor Livingstone said that two years ago the number of nine to 12 year olds with a Facebook account stood at around 34 percent and she believes that this number can only have grown in the last two years. She added that most children were starting to use Facebook at the age of 10 or 11.
The professor spoke at the Oxford Media Convention and said that it was up to parents to take a stand against children creating their own profiles on Facebook under the age of 13.
She said: “If parents sat “no, you’re too young”, young children will listen to that…Parents should say no.”
Simon Milner added: I am well aware of research which shows there are a lot of 11, 12 or even younger children who have Facebook accounts and lie about their age.
“The research shows that, in the great majority, parents not only know about this but actually help their children do this. Just to be clear, we don’t condone it.”
He continued to say that the issue was a difficult area for Facebook to tackle and that “We haven’t got a mechanism for eradicating the problem.”
There are currently no plans from Facebook to introduce a proof of age scheme as Milner believes that this would cause huge issues about privacy, so in the mean time Facebook are asking parents to monitor what their children are doing online and to make sure that if they have an underage account that they are using it responsibly.
He added that Facebook has very strict rules on grooming and bullying and that on the while Facebook is not a dangerous place but that the age 13 limit was brought in to meet US children’s online privacy laws.