Underage Facebook accounts – what’s the story?

Children fall outside the protection Facebook says it offers when they lie about their age and it warns - there’s no single solution to underage users

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Facebook says recent reports highlight there’s “no single solution” when it comes to underage children setting up accounts, amidst claims parents are helping children under 13 to do so.

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Facebook is designed for children aged 13 and over, with date of birth checks on application to help stop younger children having their own account.

Simon Milner, Facebook’s UK policy director, is concerned parents are helping children get around this restriction. Simon said, “What really worries me is that the parent adds 10 years and the child falls completely outside the protection we provide,” reports the Daily Mail.

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton has echoed Simon’s comments. “In too many cases they [children] do that aided and abetted by parents,” Tim said, reports the BBC. But Tim also noted, “We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with social media”.

A Facebook representative tells MadeForMums, “Facebook is currently designed for two age groups (13-18 years and 18 and up), and we provide extensive safety and privacy controls based on the age provide”. This includes pre-determining the privacy settings so only Facebook friends, friends of friends, and people they have a prior connection with can see what they post, the BBC noted.

Facebook’s rep continues, “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”.

Facebook’s rep confirmed that should an account owner be proven underage it can act to remove the account and work to prevent the owner signing up again. Facebook’s rep also added it had no figures on the number of parents helping children get around age restrictions. Its message is, “Just as parents are always teaching and reminding kids how to cross the road safety, talking about internet safety should be just as important a lesson to learn”.

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