Survey: Facebook Proves Popular for Millions of Minors

Paul Lilly

A new report reveals some startling statistics about the world's most popular online playground known as Facebook. The social networking service with over 500 million members is being overrun by kids under 13 years old, and even under 10 years old, many of which were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on the site in the past year.

Consumer Reports posted the results of a new survey, in which it found that of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, more than a third -- or 7.5 million -- were younger than 13 and were not supposed to be using the site. Even more disturbing, more than 5 million accounts belong to kids 10-years-old and younger and "were largely unsupervised by their parents," Consumer Reports said.

Signing up for Facebook as an underaged child doesn't take much effort. Facebook screens users by asking for a birth date, so all an underage user has to do is lie about his or her age. Who would have thought that kids aren't always honest? Regardless, parents don't seem to care.

"Parents of kids 10 and younger on Facebook seem to be largely unconcerned," Consumer Reports says. "Only 18 percent made their child a Facebook friend, which is the best way to monitor the child. By comparison, 62 percent of parents of 13- to 14-year-old did so. Only 10 percent of parents of kids 10 and under had frank talks about appropriate online behavior and threats."

Consumer Reports says that parents believe younger kids are less likely to take risks, but that isn't necessarily true.

"Those parents would be mistaken. Ten-year-olds need protection from other hazards that might lurk on the Internet, such as links that infect their computer with malware and invitations from strangers, not to mention bullies," Consumer Reports says.

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