An old saying goes, “The forbidden fruit is always sweeter”. This is especially true in the case of Facebook and social networks that are supposed to be out of bounds to children below the age of 13.
A study by EUKidsOnline has found that 1 in 5 children under the age of 13 in U.K. and 38% across Europe have a Facebook page. The study was conducted across 25,000 users between 9 and 16 years of age across Europe.
The reason for the age limit is to protect children, who are vulnerable to bullying and other types of abuse by anti-social elements. This is very likely to happen as the children often keep their profile public and interact with people whom they do not “really know”.
The authors of the report have suggested that it might be better for the children if the age restrictions are abolished, so that measures can then be taken to protect those of a vulnerable age. At present this cannot be done as children just lie about their age in order to access Facebook.
Many, such as the charity organization Kidscape have condemned the suggestion as it would invariably lead to a lot more children accessing the social network.
The report also indicates that in households where parents set up strict guidelines about use of the net, instructions are generally followed. However, children who wish to fool their parents can easily do so, as they are often more net-savvy than the parents and also have easy access to the net.
The only practical solution seems to be for parents and guardians to repeatedly impress upon the child, the dangers of accessing the social networks at a tender age.