Facebook: we can't prevent kids from signing up
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 24 Jan 2013 at 10:49
A third of pre-teens in the UK have signed up for Facebook, despite the site banning children under 13 - and the social network says there's nothing it can do about it.
London School of Economics researcher Sonia Livingstone told a conference in Oxford that 34% of children between nine and 12 have signed up for the site, according to The Guardian. She said that's more than the global average of 25%.
If parents would only say to young children, 'don't go on Facebook', we have found that they listen. Teenagers don't, but younger children do
Facebook UK's head of policy Simon Milner, who was speaking at the Oxford Media Conference, said: "We haven't got a mechanism for eradicating the problem." Milner said an age or identity verification system "would get privacy advocates up in arms" - and claimed that parents were often helping children sign up.
While his own children aren't on the site, he doesn't think that Facebook is unsafe, saying the under-13 block "is not because we think that Facebook is unsafe but because of a US law about children's online privacy".
The news follows a push by Claire Perry MP - the Conservative politician who wanted to create an opt-in system for online porn - to tell parents to keep an eye on their child's mobile phone and internet use.
"We’ve given our children all these opportunities to communicate in private, but we've lost the confidence to actually get involved in that," she told The Daily Mail earlier this week. "We have to feel more empowered to ask. Make sure your kids allow you to be friends with them on Facebook, ask them whether what they are doing is appropriate."
However, Livingstone said her research suggested that parents only need to tell children to stay off the site, and most will listen. "If parents would only say to young children, 'don't go on Facebook', we have found that they listen. Teenagers don't, but younger children do."
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