An article in today's Detroit Free Press points out that even though Facebook has a requirement that users must be at least thirteen, 55% of parents of 12-year-olds report that their child has a Facebook account. The overwhelming majority of those parents, about 82%, knew when their underage child signed up, and 76% helped create the account. Two concerns occur to me.
One, are these parents knowledgeable enough about computer and image security to keep their children safe from predators? See an earlier blog post, “What's a ‘geotag?’ | To protect yourself and your family, you want to know.” Photos posted on a Facebook page, if not stripped of geotags can give online predators access to your family’s home address, putting everyone at risk.
The study, "Why Parents Help Their Children Lie to Facebook About Age: Unintended Consequences of the 'Children's Online Privacy Protection Act,' " published in November 2011 in an academic journal found that 36% of all parents surveyed knew that their child joined Facebook before age 13 and that 68% of these parents helped their child create their account. The study published in the Internet journal First Monday, www.firstmonday.org may be read here. [Last accessed Jan. 4, 2012]
An earlier peer-reviewed article published on First Monday, “Whose space is MySpace: a content analysis of MySpace profiles,” details who uses social networking sites, how much time they spend per week or month using them, age demographics and general content of postings. [Last accessed Jan. 4, 2012]
The Free Press article “Parents break age rule to help kids join Facebook” may be read here. [Last accessed January 4, 2012]