A recent survey of adults, carried out on the charity’s behalf, found that 50 per cent were unaware that social media sites like Facebook require users to be over the age of 13. And shockingly almost 20 per cent thought there were no age requirements at all.
While social media can provide important support networks for young people, sites can also pose a danger to younger children, potentially exposing them to bullying, inappropriate content or grooming.
The NSPCC is now urging social media companies to make age restrictions much clearer on sign-up pages and is offering advice to families to help keep children safe online.
Calls to the charity’s Childline have shown that under 13s are using social networks and are in some cases having negative experiences online.
Matt Forde, NSPCC Scotland national head, said: “Age restrictions need to reflect the content and conduct possible on each site and be crystal clear to parents and their younger users. And platforms need to work harder to protect children and young people, building in child safety to the design of each site.
“Parents can be proactive by having conversations with their children about online safety as soon as they start using the internet. The NSPCC’s Net Aware service can give practical tips such as how to switch on parental controls, or manage privacy settings.”
The Net Aware website, run in partnership with O2, offers parents useful information about each social network, including the age guidance for users. The service, at www.net-aware.org.uk works with more than 500 parents and carers, and 1,725 young people, to review social networks, apps and games that children use.
Parents seeking face-to-face advice about how to best protect their children online can make an appointment with the NSPCC’s O2 gurus in their nearest store or can call the O2 NSPCC Online Safety Helpline on 0808 800 5002.
The service is open to anyone and information can be found at www.o2.co.uk/help/guru
Think you know the age restrictions for social networks? Try our quiz HERE