Underage children use social networks


Social networking websites are being accessed by a significant number of Irish children aged between nine and 13, despite rules banning under-13s from signing up, according to a report by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) researchers.

The report on social networking among Irish nine- to 16-year-olds was discussed yesterday at a seminar at DIT.

The report found half of 11- and 12-year-old children, and one in five between the ages of nine and 10, have profiles on either Facebook or Bebo despite both sites requiring members to be 13 or older.

The authors of the report, Dr Brian O’Neill and Thuy Dinh, said the findings show age restrictions are ineffective and young children are taking greater risks online. About 18 per cent of Irish children aged between nine and 10 have not changed their privacy settings – the highest of any age grouping – which means their profiles are public for anyone to see. However, children in Ireland are the least likely in Europe to have a social network profile.