Many tweens using social media despite age restrictions

Even though Facebook has an age restriction that says users must be at least 13 to create an account, a new study commissioned by online security company McAfee finds that many U.S. tweens age 10-12 have an account they use every day.

Internet safety ranked 9th in the latest NPCH Report of the top 10 health issues facing kids in the U.S. and bullying ranked 5th. Social media plays a role in both of these concerns. But according to the McAfee study released this week, 82 percent of tweens say they think social media sites are very safe or somewhat safe, with 79 percent of parents in agreement with them. Additionally, over 80 percent of the parents of pre-teens said they don’t have time to monitor everything their children do online.

Whether or not parents are monitoring their children’s use of the Internet, there are federal regulations intended to protect kids from certain pitfalls online. In December of 2012, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) to increase protection for children under age 13 online and on mobile devices. In a November 2012 NPCH Report, we asked the U.S. public about their support for some of the proposed updates.

Public support for proposed updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
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However, if tweens are using social media sites like Facebook despite age restrictions, they are at risk of many of the pitfalls COPPA is intended to prevent, making it all the more important for parents to be involved in their children’s Internet use and to talk to them about social media and Internet safety.

Have you talked with your children about Internet safety? Do you monitor their use of social media sites and apps? Share your experiences in the comments section.