New Delhi, May 7 UNI | 3 months ago

Despite government's strict norms that prohibit children under 13 years from joining the social-networking site, nearly 73 per cent of children in tier-I and tier-II cities between the age group of 8 and 13 are using facebook and social networking sites which can lead to negative outcomes such as cyber bullying and online sexual abuse, said a study.

''The following statistics are sad and shocking, as per the high court strict order, nearly 73 pe cent of Indian tweens are on facebook and other social networking sites, as majority of the parents help kids lie to get on facebook,'' according to ASSOCHAM survey on 'Indian tweens are on facebook despite being under age'.

The survey said that the majority of underage kids on facebook first got assistance from their parents in creating their accounts or profiles.

However, many of the parents after helping them repent as they become addict to it. The survey was conducted under ASSOCHAM Social Development Foundation (ASDF).

The outcome was based on the response of 4,200 parents, whose children were in the age group 8-13 years, in major metropolitan cities like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahemdabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow and Dehradun.

The vast majority (75 per cent) of the parents of 8-13 year-olds on Facebook are aware of their child for signing up for the site.

Many parents initially knowingly allow their children to lie about their age on social networking site. Nearly 82 per cent of those parents helped create the child's account, according to the paper.

''Although majority of the parents surveyed believe that there should be a minimum age for Facebook, 78 per cent believe that there are situations like school related activities, communicating with others make it 'OK' for their child to sign up for an online service even if he or she does not meet the site's minimum age requirement,'' the chamber said.

While releasing the survey, ASSOCHAM Secretary General D S
Rawat said, ''children are gaining access to social media sites at a younger age, which could expose them to content, people or situations that are out of their depth.''

As per the findings, nearly 25 per cent of 13-year-olds, 22 per cent of 11-year-olds and 15 per cent of 10-year-old are on Facebook, while 5-10 per cent of 8 & 9 year-olds are also active on the site, said the survey.

Dr B K Rao, Chairman of ASSOCHAM Health Committee said, ''minors lack the experience or judgment to use a social network and this raises the scary predators tracking down kids who reveal their age in an online chat, cyber bullying and online sexual abuse.''

Mr Rawat said, ''easy availability of technology with lack of parental supervision is a significant reason for this ever-increasing menace of technology addiction.''

The study said that children are most likely to post an image or video of themselves online. Facebook is the most preferred social networking website for children between the ages of 8 and 13-years.

Other popular sites including, google plus, pinterest, snapchat are used by 85 per cent of ten to 16-year-olds, said the survey.

An aspect which emerged out of this survey is that children of working parents are found to be more technology addictive in the absence of parental supervision, as compared to those whose single parent is engaged in employment. This trend is abundant in metros where normally both the parents are employed, the survey said.

''Having a genuine and transparent two-way communication with children is absolutely fundamental to establishing a safe and positive cyber experience,'' the chamber said.

(Posted on 08-05-2014)