Over half (59%) of UK children have already started using social media before the age of 10 – something which is causing concern for parents, according to new research.
The study by leading age verification provider, AgeChecked, questioned 1,500 parents on their concerns around online child safety – and the resulting report details that almost three quarters (71%) are worried about the safety risks that these platforms present.
Social media sites such as Twitter, for example, allow pornographic footage to be viewed without requiring the user to age verify themselves.
However, despite the legal age requirement for sites such as Facebook and Twitter being 13, many children are gaining access before they reach secondary school.
As such, over half (57%) of parents surveyed do not believe current age verification measures are working effectively.
A further 68% of parents voiced concerns that their children could be communicating with strangers online. Amongst the other major concerns in AgeChecked’s report are access to video-sharing platforms (70%), where disturbing content could be viewed, and shopping sites where restricted items – such as knives and alcohol – can be purchased (40%).
Alastair Graham, CEO of AgeChecked, said: “For parents, monitoring their childrens’ online activity has become a near-impossible task. Social media companies have a duty of care to young people, and must ensure that those who are accessing their sites meet their minimum age requirement.
“Whilst the ever-growing market of technologies can be of great benefit to children, they also pose unprecedented risks. Appropriate measures – such as robust, integrated age verification systems – must be taken to ensure young people are protected from potentially harmful material.”