Millions of Kids Younger Than 13 on Facebook, Consumer Reports Survey Finds

Filed under: In The News

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An estimated 7.5 million of the 20 million Facebook users are younger than 13. Credit: Getty Images

School is out for the day, homework is complete, and your tween is chilling out, messing around on an educational website. Yeah, right. She's totally on Facebook.

A survey by Consumer Reports notes that some 7.5 million of the 20 million Facebook users are younger than 13, the Chicago Tribune reports, and more than 5 million of those kids are 10 and younger.

There's a reason the social networking site requires members to be at least 13 -- youngsters (heck, oldsters, too) can fall prey to bullies, predators, viruses and more, according to the newspaper.

Consumer Reports estimates "1 million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on the site in the past year," the Tribune reports.

So, how are the kids getting on Facebook in the first place? According to the newspaper, they just type in a fake birth date when they register.

Consumer Reports says parents with kids 13 or older should "friend" their children -- although just 18 percent of parents of children 10 and younger have done so, the Tribune notes, adding that 62 percent of parents with kids ages 13 and 14 have friended their kids.

"There is no single solution to ensuring younger children don't circumvent a system or lie about their age," Facebook responds. "We appreciate the attention that these reports and other experts are giving this matter and believe this will provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, safety advocates and Internet services to focus on this area, with the ultimate goal of keeping young people of all ages safe online."

Also noted in the Consumer Reports survey:
  • Twenty-one percent of Facebook users with kids at home have posted those kid's names and photos on the site.
  • Five percent of Facebook users have posted their current location or travel plans
  • Thirty-four percent have shared their full birth date, exposing them to identity theft and stalking.
  • One in five Facebook users has not used the site's privacy controls.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.