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7.5 Million Preteens Use Facebook




Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million of them were younger than 13, according to Consumer Reports. Facebook requires users to be at least 13 years old.

Among the minors using Facebook, more than 5 million were age 10 and younger. In its State of the Net survey, Consumer Reports found that these minors' accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents, exposing them to malware or serious threats such as predators or bullies. The report is featured in the magazine's June issue and on www.consumerreports.org.

“Many kids are using the site who shouldn’t be,” says Jeff Fox, technology editor for Consumer Reports. “What’s even more troubling was the finding from our survey that indicated that a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children’s use of the site.”

In a survey reported earlier this year,the magazine found that one-third of U.S. households had experienced a malicious software infection in the previous year.

Facebook Safety Tips from Consumer Reports

Monitor a child’s account. Parents should join their children’s circle of friends on Facebook. If that’s not feasible with an older teenager, keep tabs on them through their friends or siblings, as did 18 percent of parents surveyed who had 13- to 17-year olds on Facebook. Parents should delete a pre-teen’s account or ask Facebook to do so by using its “report an underage child” form.

Utilize privacy controls. Roughly one in five active adult Facebook users said they hadn’t utilized Facebook’s privacy controls, making them more vulnerable to threats. Facebook’s privacy controls may not prevent every breach but they help. Users should set everything they can to be accessible only to those on their friends list. Enabling a public search allows users’ profile picture, friends list, activities and more to be visible online outside of Facebook.

Turn off Instant Personalization. Facebook has been adding sites to its Instant Personalization feature, which automatically links accounts to user-review sites such as TripAdvisor (travel) and Yelp (local businesses). Users who don’t wish to share what cities they have visited with their Facebook friends via TripAdvisor should disable Instant Personalization, which is turned on by default.

Use apps with caution. Even though Facebook says in its privacy policy that it doesn’t share identifiable information with advertisers without permission, connecting with an app or website allows access to general information. Users should check the list of apps they are using and define the settings for each one listed. Decide what information the app can access, when possible, or perhaps eliminate the app altogether. Also, users should limit access to their information that is available to apps that friends use.

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