UK media watchdog Ofcom said on Tuesday that more than a third of children between the ages of 8 and 17 are using various social media platforms after signing up with a fake date of birth.
In a statement, Ofcom said, “Our latest research shows that the majority (77 percent) of social media users between the ages of 8 and 17 have their own account or profile on at least one major social media platform.”
And even when they’re not online, conversations with their friends and schoolmates are often focused on the latest social media or online gaming trends.
Ofcom said, if children are not on these platforms, they may feel left out of conversations and even friends groups.
Research has shown that many children, especially in the younger age group (between eight and 12), had helped their parents or guardians set up their social media accounts.
The minimum age to create an account on most social media apps is 13 years, with many platforms asking users to self-declare their age when setting up their account.
“Some of the kids who did this told us that they mentioned themselves as older in their profiles,” he said. One of the reasons they give for creating profiles with an older age is that when a child registers their profile at a younger age, they gain more limited experience, and so intentionally register as an older one.
Last month, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Meta 405 million euros after investigating such fake accounts.
Few parents are aware of the age requirements but allow their children under 13 to use the platform anyway.
This is probably because they feel comfortable making decisions, for example, their ten-year-old may encounter material appropriate for children 13 years of age or older, the report said.