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Social media age limits ‘ignored by most youngsters’

February 9th, 2016 by Mark Daly in Industry News No Comments »
Social media age limits 'ignored by most youngsters' ilicomm Technology Solutions

More than three-quarters of children aged 10 to 12 in the UK have social media accounts, even though they are below the age limit, a survey for BBC Newsround suggests.

The study, marking this year’s Safer Internet Day, also suggests more than one in five has faced online bullying.

The global event encourages “safe and responsible” use of the internet.

Social media network Instagram said if anyone suspected accounts were run by under-13s, they should report them.

The Newsround survey, based on 1,000 young people aged between 10 and 18, found social media to be an important part of everyday life.

‘Unkind’ words

Among 13 to 18 year olds, 96% were signed up to social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp.

Among under-13s, 78% were using at least one social media network, despite being below the age requirement.

Facebook was the most popular with under-13s, with 49% claiming to be users.

Instagram was used by 41% of 10 to 12 year olds and the company said “keeping the community safe” online was its “number one priority”

Destructive purposes

“We require anyone on Instagram to be over the age of 13, and we have clear community guidelines and in-app tools to help people report anything that may make them feel uncomfortable,” said a spokesman.

Most of the experiences of users were positive, but particularly for older children, online networks could be used for more destructive purposes.

Among 16 to 18 year olds, two in five had used social media to spread gossip and a quarter had used it to say something “unkind” or “rude” to someone else online.

Media captionHow safe do you feel on social media sites?

More than half of these older children had seen online bullying.

The Safer Internet Day, backed by technology firms and the government, commissioned its own survey of 13 to 18 year olds, and found that more than four in five had seen “online hate”, such as offensive or threatening language.

More than two-thirds of young people knew they could report such offensive language, but in practice, people were much more likely to ignore it.

Social media age limits 'ignored by most youngsters' ilicomm Technology Solutions
Image copyright Thinkstock
Image captionGeneration gap: Young people are switching off conventional television channels

Hannah Broadbent, from the UK Safer Internet Centre, told the BBC: “It’s so important that we show children what other things they can do using digital technology that are engaging, creative and age-appropriate.

“It’s about showing them what else it could be and inspiring them with that.”

‘Pushing boundaries’

Google is marking Safer Internet Day by launching an online safety roadshow, which aims to reach 10,000 primary school children this year.

Eileen Naughton, Google UK’s managing director, said: “The internet is a great place for education, creativity and entertainment, but we know kids need the right skills to navigate the web and stay safe online.”

A recent study from research agency Childwise showed teenagers were now using online services, such as social networks, and on-demand services like YouTube,more than they are watching conventional television channels.

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