77% of 8-17 year olds sign up on social media with fake DOBs: UK media watchdog

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77% of 8-17 year olds sign up on social media with fake DOBs: UK media watchdog
Indiainsider
More than one-third of children between ages 8 and 17 are using various social media platforms after signing up with fake dates of birth and these platforms are unable to stop this practice, the UK's media watchdog Ofcom said on Tuesday.
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The children are increasingly living their lives, and socialising, online.

"Our latest research shows that most (77 per cent) social media users aged between eight and 17 have their own account or profile on at least one of the large social media platforms," Ofcom said in a statement.

And even when they're not online, conversations with their friends and schoolmates will often focus on the latest social media or online gaming trends.

"So, if children aren't on these platforms they can feel excluded from conversations, and even friendship groups," Ofcom said.

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The research showed that many children, particularly in the younger age range (between eight and 12) had help from their parents or guardians to set up their social media accounts.

In many cases, parents' motivations include wanting to make sure their child didn't miss out.

However, the minimum age to create an account on most social media apps is 13, with many platforms asking users to self-declare their age when setting up their account.

"This means that children under 13 need to say they're older than they actually are if they want to create an account," the UK watchdog maintained.

"Some children who've done this told us that their current profiles made them much older, with extreme examples as high as 50 years old. One of the reasons they give for creating a profile with a much older age is because they believe they're getting a more limited experience when their profile is registered at a child's age, and so they deliberately register as older," it added.

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Last month, Ireland's Data Protection Commission fined Meta 405 million euros after an investigation into how it handled teenagers' data.

Some parents are aware of age requirements but allow their under-13 children to use the platforms anyway.

"This is perhaps because they feel comfortable making a judgment call about whether, for example, their ten-year-old can cope with content suitable for children aged 13 or older," the report added.

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