There are some interesting stats coming out as Ofcom them today. According to them almost 20% of children aged below 12 are part of a social network, be it Twitter, MySpace of Facebook. I am a bit surprised as almost all these social networks lay emphasis that you need to be 13 and above to be a member of these social networks. But stating the obvious here, there isn’t any way you can determine how old is a person online.
A similar survey was carried out in October last year and according to it almost 40% of users between 5 and seven visited the site. I am not sure how authentic are these but I can trust these as 4 of my cousins aged below 10 visit the site, not that they have an account on Facebook. Again the issue isn’t with using these social networks but that these sites have given rise to all sorts of issues, from content that is adult, inappropriate all the way to virus, malware, scams, etc. This is quite a concern that needs to be addressed for the good of kids. You can definitely keep a watch on kids and control their use, but there is no way you can ensure that only the appropriate content is accessible.
There is however a positive side to it. Kids somehow manage to know more about privacy settings. The study conducted on surveying 700 or so kids showed that they are better aware of privacy settings on Facebook, unlike their adult counterparts who still are clueless about how to hide their status updates from certain people and the public.
The Flip side, however is that kids this age would readily believe whatever information they would come across on line. I am not into child psychology, but speaking from experience, I believed anything I read when I was under 10.