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Is Your Kid Lying to Get on Facebook?

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If you’ve seen recent headlines, you may have heard that millions of kids, approximately 7.5 million to be more precise, are lying to get on Facebook. Consumer Reports discovered this alarming fact while conducting its annual “State of the Net” survey. What’s even more disturbing about this figure is that the publication estimates more than five million of these users are under the age of 10, far younger than the 13-year-old age requirement enforced by Facebook. 

And “enforced” is certainly used loosely. All that is needed at this point to get a Facebook account is personal contact information, an email address and a birth date – all of which is very easy for anyone (even a tech-savvy youngster) to get and fabricate. The official Facebook privacy policy states: 

No information from children under age 13. If you are under age 13, please do not attempt to register for Facebook or provide any personal information about yourself to us. If we learn that we have collected personal information from a child under age 13, we will delete that information as quickly as possible. If you believe that we might have any information from a child under age 13, please contact us through this help page

Jeff Fox, technology editor at Consumer Reports is quoted as saying, "We all know how bright those folks are that run it, I cannot believe that they cannot devise better systems for preventing kids under 13 than just asking for a birth date."

Facebook can be risky enough for teenagers and, according to a recent American Academy of Pediatrics study can lead to Facebook depression, cyberbullying, sexting and other dangers. There is no reason that anyone under the age of 13 should be on Facebook, but the desire is there, clearly. Is this the modern day equivalent to sneaking out of the house? Kids want to do what their friends are doing and in this digital age, kids are social networking.  

So, what’s a parent to do? Consumer Reports urges parents to delete accounts of anyone in the family that is underage, or by using the notification form linked in Facebook’s statement above. If you do have a child that is of age and has a Facebook account, talk, talk, talk. And then talk some more. Keep those lines of communication open and be aware of what your child is doing and who your child is engaging with online. It’s that important.

Click here for more tips on monitoring kids’ social media habits.

 

 

 

 

 

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