Facebook has been left red-faced by a survey released to coincide with the Safer Internet Day that showed nearly two-thirds of 10- to 12-year-olds flout the social network's age restrictions.
The official press release to promote the Safer Internet Day – which aims to encourage families to discover the digital world together – quotes Facebook's director of policy for Europe, and former Liberal MP, Richard Allan.
“Conversations between the generations are one of the most important ways for people to stay safe online. Children benefit from the wisdom of parents and grandparents in understanding how to deal with people,” he said.
But according to (ISC)2, the information security professionals group, a survey of schoolchildren conducted to coincide with Safer Internet Day suggests that Facebook is not doing enough to safeguard children online.
It interviewed 1,500 children in London and found that 63 per cent of 10- to 12-year-olds were accessing Facebook, despite its policy of only allowing those over 13 to use its service.
“As the internet and social networking become increasingly powerful influences upon the lives of young people, it is important to ensure that they know how to protect themselves from potential dangers,” said David Potts, assistant principal, Stourport High School in Worcestershire.
According to its web site, Facebook has policies in place to prevent under-13s setting up accounts and can permanently delete them. The firm added that it supported the efforts to encourage families to discuss internet safety.
"We agree with safety experts that communication between parents/guardians and kids about their use of the internet is vital. We believe that services such as Facebook have a role to play in encouraging this," a company spokesperson told V3.
The Safer Internet Day campaign is designed to encourage the young and old to access the internet, with an emphasis on more seasoned internet users in the family helping them to do so safely.
Its backers encourage parents to talk to their children about how to use the internet sensibly, warning them about potential pitfalls.
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