The media watchdog Ofcom in UK has published a report which says that the age restriction policy in Facebook and other social media sites are often ignored. The report says that even eight year old children have been found to have Facebook profiles. It also claims that one in five children between the age of eight and twelve years use social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace or Bebo, despite all these sites having an official age limit of 13.
According to the report, 37 percent of home Internet users aged between five and seven visited the Facebook site in October, 2009. One in six parents were unaware of their child’s presence in social networking sites. These figures are likely to draw a debate on how Facebook and other sites monitor the ages of their users. Although the site insists the users to report their age, there is now way to verify whether the information is correct or not.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center has recently criticized Facebook for not installing the CEOP button on its site which could have made it easy for young people to report inappropriate behavior. Internet safety experts are worried that children may fall prey to online scams and predators other than the ill-effect of unfitting content on these media sites. “It does matter that children as young as eight are on social networking sites. At that age they are not sceptical and very easily taken in,” said one such expert.
Another concern cited in the report is that the majority of the young audience seems to believe everything they read in the social networking and other sites. The report found that under the age of 11, 70 percent of those believed whatever they read in blogs, social media sites and sites like Wikipedia.
However, the one good thing that this survey noticed is that the young mass is completely aware of the importance of privacy in social networking sites. 83 percent of the folks allowed visits on their profiles only from friends and 4 percent have made their profile pages completely private.
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