'Parents lie about their children's age to help them register on Facebook'

Virendra Pandit |Ahmedabad  | | Updated on: Mar 12, 2018

Worried over its impact on his children, US President Barack Obama was, a couple of years ago, forced to pull his daughters away from Facebook, although social networking had been the bedrock of his Presidential campaign.

In India, however, many parents lie and help their underage children register on FB, according to a survey. 

Teenagers often find social media irresistible. And access to social media leads to more cyber bullying, industry body Assocham said on Wednesday, giving a wake-up call to the Government and parents. 

Despite government’s norms prohibiting children under 13 years of age from joining social networking sites, nearly 73% of kids surveyed in Tier-I and -II cities in the 8-13 year age group are using Facebook and other social networking sites. “It can lead to negative outcomes such as cyber bullying and online sexual abuse,” Assocham Secretary-General D.S. Rawat said, quoting a recent survey. 

It said a majority of parents help kids lie and open Facebook accounts. “However, many of the parents, after helping them, repent as they become addicted to it.” 

The Assocham Social Development Foundation (ASDF) conducted a survey of 4,200 parents having children in the age group 8-13 years in major metropolitan cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, and Dehradun. 

Nearly 75 per cent of these parents were aware of their children signing up for the site. Many parents initially allowed their children to lie about their age on social networking site. Nearly 82 per cent of those parents helped create the child's account. Although a majority of the parents surveyed favoured a minimum age for using Facebook, 78 per cent believe that there are situations like school-related activities, in which communicating with others made it alright for their child to sign up for an online service even if he or she did not meet the site's minimum age requirement. 

Children gaining access to social media sites at a younger age could expose them to content, people or situations that are out of their depth. According to the per the findings, nearly 25 per cent of 13-year-olds, 22 per cent of 11-year-olds and 15 per cent of 10-year-olds are on Facebook, while 5-10 per cent of 8 and 9 year-olds are also active on the site. 

Dr. B.K. Rao, Chairman of Assocham Health Committee, said that minors lacked the experience or judgment to use a social network. This raised the scary scenario of predators tracking down kids revealing their age in an online chat, cyber bullying and online sexual abuse. 

Rawat said easy availability of technology with a lack of parental supervision is a significant reason for this ever-increasing menace of technology addiction. 

The study revealed that children are most likely to post an image or video of themselves online. Facebook is the most preferred social networking website for children between the ages of 8 and 13 years. Other popular sites like flick.com, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Snapchat are used by 85 per cent of 10 to 16-year-olds. 

In particular, children of working parents were found to be more technology-addictive in the absence of parental supervision, as compared to those whose single parent is engaged in employment. This trend is abundant in metros where normally both the parents are employed.

Published on May 07, 2014
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