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A quarter of UK internet users aged 8-12 say they have under-age social networking profiles (News Item)


A quarter of children aged 8-12 who use the internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace, new Ofcom research revealed today. These sites have a minimum user age of 13.

But 83 per cent of these children have their profile set so that it can only be seen by friends, and 4 per cent have a profile that can't be seen. Nine in ten parents of these children who are aware that their child visits social networking sites (93 per cent) also say that they check what their child is doing on these types of sites. However one in six (17 per cent) parents of this group are not aware that their child visits social networking sites.

Ofcom's annual Children's Media Literacy Audit provides an overview of media literacy among children and young people and their parents and carers. The report also includes internet audience data which showed that amongst 5-7 year old home internet users, just over a third (37 per cent) visited Facebook in October 2009 (but did not necessarily have a profile).

Downloading TV programmes, films and music

  • Downloading or watching TV programmes or films on the internet has increased by 4 percentage points in the past year by children aged 8-15 who use the internet at home (from 17 per cent in 2008 to 21 per cent in 2009).
  • At the same time, 44 per cent of 12-15s say they think that downloading shared copies of films and music for free should not be illegal, with 18 per cent saying they don't know and 38 per cent saying it should be illegal. Boys aged 12-15 are more likely to say it should not be illegal (48 per cent).

Seeing is believing

  • Blogs or sites like Wikipedia where people can add or change information are visited by one in five (18 per cent) of 8-11s and half of 12-15s (48 per cent) who use the internet at home. Users of these sites aged 8-11 are much more likely than 12-15s to believe that the information on these types of sites is all or mostly true (70 per cent vs. 48 per cent) with boys aged 8-15 more likely than girls of this age to believe that all or most of the information is true (59 per cent vs. 46 per cent).
  • Two in five users of social networking sites aged 8-11 and 12-15 also believe that all or most of the information on these sites is true (38 per cent and 40 per cent respectively).
  • And one in four 12-15s (27 per cent) who use search engines think that search engines only return results from websites with truthful information.

TV habits

BARB viewing data showed that mainstream entertainment shows such as The X Factor and Britain's Got Talent were the most viewed programmes among children aged 10-15 in 2009. Among 4-9 year olds, Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor were beaten into second and third place by The Gruffalo, broadcast on Christmas Day.

The full report can be found at:

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© COPYRIGHT Office for Internet Safety 2008