LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A new study on Tuesday revealed that over one-third of minors who have Facebook accounts are under the age of 13.
Jeff Fox, technology editor for Consumer Reports, told KNX 1070 that the study found at least 7.5 million users are under Facebook’s minimum age requirement.
“If you sign up for a Facebook account, they ask you for your birthday, you put in whatever you want, they don’t really check it, and then you’ve got an account,” said Fox.
And actual figures for underage users could be even higher because of the way Consumer Reports conducted the study: in fact, according to Fox, the survey indicates that a lot of parents are just not doing their jobs at all.
“I’m not sure if they all appreciate the risks that are out there,” Fox said. “We talked to child experts and they said people think, ‘Oh, a 10-year-old is kind of harmless, they can’t get into any trouble’.”
Even parents who use Facebook themselves are dangerously ignorant of cyber-threats, with one-third of households reporting some sort of malware had infected their computers over the last year.
Fox said the issue can be effectively addressed using methods similar to strategies used by other popular online sites.
“Look at eBay,” Fox said. “You could use a reputation management system” where known adults on the system can vouch for new users to verify that they meet the age requirement.