Despite the fact that most Social Networks require being over 13 years of age to register, the reality is that this is not verified in any way and that many minors have accounts on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram or Facebook on a regular basis. . To better understand how this affects families, ExpressVPN has conducted a survey of more than 2,000 children between the ages of 4 and 13 , as well as their more than 2,000 parents. The results are, to say the least, worrying.
The study carried out by ExpressVPN that we are going to talk about below helps us to get an idea of how common and almost natural it is for our children, cousins and underage nephews to frequent the different Social Networks that are available, open to all the world. And it is that, although the US law prevents companies from collecting data from children under 13 years of age, the reality is that nothing prevents a minor from registering and obtaining an account.
Less than us, but minors also frequent Social Networks
The study carried out by ExpressVPN has surveyed, as we said, more than 2,000 children between the ages of 4 and 13, in this case in the United Kingdom and the United States. It is worrying that even with this age range, the parents or guardians themselves allow their children to access Social Networks (around a quarter of those surveyed), while more than half of those surveyed acknowledged spending some time on the Internet. day using these tools (which means that 25% use them without parental consent or knowledge).
As you can see in the graph that we have placed above these lines, the time that minors spend on Social Networks is quite worrisome, especially children of 4, 5 and 6 years old, who have barely learned to read yet (the average is precisely , at 6 years of age).
Of course, it is common for a father or mother who needs a moment of respite to put a YouTube video on their child so that they can stay entertained for a while… the problem is that many times that does not end there, and since the tutor forgetful, the child will spend a lot of time “tinkering” with the mobile, accessing all kinds of content without any filter. And from there comes the next question, which we will discuss below.
Are you aware of what your child does online?
Really, hardly anyone lets their child surf the Internet unsupervised (although as we mentioned before, there are always mistakes), and according to this study by ExpressVPN around 54% of parents monitor what their children do on the Internet… what is worrying it is the 46% that do not. Typically, this “monitoring” consists of supervising their phones and tablets, although few make use of parental control software.
87% of parents allow their children to access online services such as YouTube or Netflix, while more than 80% allow their children to play online; 28% affirm that they do not see any problem for their children to access the Internet to read all kinds of articles and news. The problem lies in what we have already discussed before, and that is that even if you put cartoons on Netflix for your child, nothing prevents him from closing that content and opening any other, even of a different nature.
Most parents are aware that there are dangers to allowing their children to access Social Networks and the Internet in general, such as cyberbullying, invasion of privacy, and most dangerous of all: online predators that take advantage of the little kids.
When ExpressVPN asked parents what they considered to be the biggest online threats, 59% responded that what worries them most is that they will be harassed in some way, leaving next the concern that their children will be captured by a predator. sexual. After that, offensive images and videos occupy 43% of parental concerns, while cyber bullying, intimidation and the possibility of capturing personal information remain last resort.
For their part, the children surveyed say that what worries them the most is finding someone who is rude or swears (34%), while the next thing on the list is seeing images or videos that scare them. Worst of all, confirming the fears of parents, 22% say they have been victims of online bullying, while 17% said they had spoken to strangers, who had asked them which school they attended (and 14% including your home address).
Now, as expected, online lies are also the order of the day. We have already mentioned before that Social Networks require you to be over 13 years of age to register, and 24% of children admitted to having lied about their age. Around 15% also lied about their place of residence, and even about their appearance when asked.
Lying is wrong, but when we talk about the combination of children interacting on Social Networks, it clearly denotes that they feel the need to protect their true identity when they are on them.
Tips to keep your kids safe online
It is a fact that children are spending more and more time in front of a screen, and in fact most schools today encourage the use of electronic devices for learning. The Internet has also become a great way for children to stay in touch with friends and family, so it’s not something that can be denied to them either, which is why the best thing parents can do is try to ensure maximum protection for their children.
To do this, parental controls can be installed on the devices used by children, both to restrict what they access and to limit the time they do so. It’s also important to make sure kids feel comfortable sharing any kind of information with their parents (including misdeeds), and just as important is letting them understand that they shouldn’t talk to strangers , even online.
Finally, another excellent idea to increase the security of both children and other members of the family unit is to hire a VPN . This service redirects online traffic through a secure tunnel, encrypting data so that nothing can be extracted from it even if it is captured, and also increasing anonymity by using an IP address in another location, instead of your own. .