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New report highlights risk to young children on social networking sites

11 and 12 year olds at risk because of easy to bypass online minimum age verification

15 November 2013

A new NSPCC report - Younger children and social networking sites: a blind spot - has highlighted the risks to younger children who join social networking sites without meeting the minimum age requirement.

Children must be at least 13 to register on most social networking websites. However, there are often few barriers to prevent them from joining at a younger age.

We are concerned this is exposing these children to upsetting experiences like 'trolling', or being sent sexual messages and images, that many simply aren't equipped to deal with.

Our research found that one in four 11 and 12 year olds had been upset by something on a social networking site during the previous year - one in five said this happened every day.

Claire Lilley, NSPCC head of child safety online, says:
"We estimate that around half of the UK's 11 and 12 year-olds have a profile on a social networking site with a minimum age of 13.

"Age verification is a nut that social networking sites are yet to crack. But in the meantime children are routinely bypassing minimum age limits to set up profiles, so it's vital that parents are made aware of the risks."

Download Younger children and social networking sites report (PDF 2MB)

Read Claire Lilley's full statement and NSPCC press release

How to help your child stay safe online

New advice on how to keep children safe online (including social networking sites) is now available in the Help and advice section of our website.

The new advice pages provide guidance on dealing with issues such as 'sexting', 'cyberbullying' and will help parents to create conversations with their children about staying safe online.

Read our online safety advice

Talk to someone about your online safety concerns

Parents, or any adult worried about a child, can contact the NSPCC about social networking and online safety on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

Any children needing advice about something that has upset them on a social networking sites or any other problem can call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or get help online at childline.org.uk.

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