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77% of under-18s sign up with fake date of birth on social media: Ofcom

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According to the UK’s media watchdog Ofcom, more than one-third of children aged 8 to 17 are using various social media platforms after signing up with false dates of birth, and these platforms are powerless to stop this practise.

The children are increasingly living 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.

Even when they aren’t online, conversations with their friends and classmates frequently revolve around 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.

According to the findings, many children, particularly those between the ages of eight and twelve, received assistance from their parents or guardians in setting up their social media accounts.

In many cases, parents’ motivations include a desire to ensure that their child does not miss out.

The minimum age to create an account on most social media apps, however, is 13, with many platforms requiring users to self-declare their age when creating an 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 deliberately register as older,” it added.

Following an investigation into how Meta handled teenagers’ data, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Meta 405 million euros last month.

Some parents are aware of the age restrictions but allow their children under the age of 13 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.

About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

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