4 Out of 5 Parents Let Children on Facebook, Clueless What They're Up To

Article by George Norman (Cybersecurity Editor)

on 27 Jan 2010

According to a study conducted by British online discounts website MyVoucherCodes on 1345 parents, 78% of them (or 4 out of 5) let their children use social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo. The fact that most parents let children under 15 years of age use Facebook is not a big deal in my eyes. After all, these children must be curious to see what the 350 million Facebook users found attractive about the social networking site. The troubling part is that 48% of these parents have absolutely no idea what their child or children are up to online.

The combination of children and the internet can prove to be worrisome. You may know about all the hidden threats and all the nasties that lurk out there. But children do not. They need to be kept safe. The study revealed that 1 in 4 parents believed the children would keep themselves safe online.

Out of the parents that did have a clue what their child was doing, a third said they did not bother to check the privacy settings. This is an important step as the child will post pictures of himself. If the privacy level is set to public, everyone with access to the internet can view the pictures. Some pictures should remain private or at least shared only with the child’s circle of friends.

Only 11% out of the 1345 interviewed parents said they took the time to check the privacy settings and admitted that they keep a close eye on what their child or children do on social networking sites. They took an active role in ensuring the safe of the child.

Some of the parents, 22% to be more precise, believe that social networking sites would be detrimental to the child’s development. So they do not allow their offspring(s) to use social networking sites.

“I think that it is very important for children to be able to use these sites to an extent because it is a great way for them to keep in contact with their friends. I think in many ways it seems alien to us because for many these sites didn’t exist when we were at that age,” commented retail expert and Managing Director of MyVoucherCodes.co.uk, Mark Pearson. “I do think however, that the access does need to be limited because over exposure can be bad for their health. Also, it is vital that children are monitored and privacy settings are kept in check to ensure no personal information is accessible to strangers.”

The most popular social networking sites identified by the study are:
  • Facebook – 79%
  • Bebo – 77%
  • MSN – 73%
  • MySpace – 66%

How come Facebook made it to number one when the minimum recommended age for Facebook users is 13? The answer is simple: the parents let the children lie about their age.

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