Eight-year olds in the UK are joining social networks


Facebook’s privacy policy states that children under the age of 13 may not register on the social network. But that doesn’t stop kids from wanting to join the site. As an effect, parents are discussing in online forums how to react when their 10 or 11-year olds want to become members on Facebook. Here is one discussion (in Swedish) from last year in which a parent says that several kids in his or her 9-year old’s class are on Facebook. On the family forum Familjeliv there was a poll earlier in 2010 of how many kids under 13 that were members. About a third of the 52 that answered said that their kids were on Facebook, despite being under the mimimum age.

It is quite possible that this trend will only increase with the growth in popularity in social networks. Research from the UK communications regulator Ofcom reveals that children as young as 8 years old are ignoring social networking site rules and creating their own site profiles.

“The research found that a quarter of children aged 8-12 who use the internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace. All these sites have a minimum user age of 13.”

The research also showed that one in six parents didn’t know that their children were spending time on social networks.

In the UK, 1.6 million teens age 13-15 have a Facebook profile. It seems reasonable to think that also several thousand children under 13 are on Facebook, although they aren’t allowed to register.

Photo credit: ntr23