According to a survey released by the European Commission (EC), more than three-quarters of children in Europe are using one or more social networking sites, and about 1 in 5 under the age of 13 have a Facebook account despite age limitations. This survey was published by EUKidsOnline network, which polled 25,000 children across Europe.
The results also reveal that one in ten has a public profile, with a fifth of these kids displaying their personal information like home addresses and/or phone numbers. This fact is of a major concern as children are putting themselves out as an open target to child predators. The EC has asked social networking sites to make children’s profiles visible only to selected contacts by default and invisible to search engines. Most of these children do not even know how to change their privacy settings on social networking sites. Most of them have more than a hundred contacts online.
The Netherlands has most children under 13 who use a social networking site with 70 per cent and France happens to have the least with 25 per cent. In 2009, 17 web firms, including Google/YouTube, Microsoft Europe, MySpace and Yahoo! Europe, signed the first EU-wide agreement to improve the safety of underage-18 users of these social networking sites. EC showed that there are still many popular sites which have not signed the agreement that younger generation uses.