Age restriction systems on social networking websites like Facebook, Bebo or Myspace are as easy to flout as it can be; a poll published last night by Garlik showed that nearly a quarter of children aged between eight and 12 have joined those websites.
This means that more than 750,000 children (and possibly close to a million) are using these sites illegally. Facebook has a no-entry policy for children under 13 while they recommend minors over the age of 13 to "ask their parents for permission before sending any information about themselves to anyone over the Internet". (ed : Whoever wrote that has surely never dealt with hormone-laden teenagers).
Furthermore, the research found out that nine out of ten parents interviewed did speak about online dangers with their children, although a quarter of those questioned did log onto their child's social networking page without their permission and an equal portion setup their own profile pages to spy on them.
But that's with good reason as young people spend on average one hour a day on their social networking pages and a whopping quarter of youngsters aged between 8 and 15 have total strangers logged as friends online.
A fifth of those in that age bracket have actually met their stranger friends online - although the report stops short of telling whether these friends were of the same cohort or not.