How young is too young for Facebook and Gmail?

Graham Cluley
@gcluley

Should there be a minimum age before you can use social networks or have a web email account?

Under Google and Facebook’s terms of services, you have to be at least 13 years old. However, plenty of even younger girls and boys are probably using the systems – with or without the knowledge of their parents.

The issue has come to light again for two reasons. Firstly, new research has uncovered that 55% of children under the age of 12 have a Facebook account, despite age restrictions put in place by the site.

According to a study by New York University, 76 per cent of the underage kids registered their social networking accounts with the help of their parents.

In the United States, sites such as Google and Facebook are required to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which demands that children under the age of 13 must provide a parent’s/guardian’s permission before giving out personal information online…

Read more in my article on the Naked Security website.

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Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

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