73 percent of Indian tweens use Facebook, other social networking sites despite age requirements


Indian minors have access to social media sites, and nearly 73 percent of them between 8 to 13 years old and in tier-I and tier-II cities are on Facebook and other social media sites, latest survey by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) Social Development Foundation reveals.

The surveyed children under the age bracket 8 to 13 years old came from major metro cities in India, such as Ahemdabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Pune. Facebook tops as the most-preferred social media site for these children surveyed. Meanwhile, 85 percent of 10 to 16 year old age bracket use Google Plus, Snapchat, Pinterest and  The ASSOCHAM survey also discloses that these minors are most likely to put their photo or video on social media space.

"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," ASSOCHAM secretary general
 DS Rawat says in a statement.

The government of India prohibits the use of social media on children who are below 13 years of age, because of the negative outcomes such as online sexual abuse and cyber bullying, but the figures show otherwise. The figures were regarded as shocking and sad, according to the high court strict order. 

"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," Dr. B K Rao, ASSOCHAM Health Committee chairman, also says in a statement.

The ASSOCHAM survey, however, learns that these children get on Facebook with the help of their parents who lie for them or assist them in creating profiles or accounts. It says close to 82 percent of the 4,200 parents involved in the survey assisted the children in creating the social media account, and 75 percent of these parents are meanwhile aware of the sign-up of their children on Facebook. Unfortunately, many of these parents regret doing so after discovering their children got addicted to social media.

Ironically, of these parents surveyed, majority of them believe in requiring a minimum age for Facebook accounts. On the other hand, 78 percent also believe that certain situations - such as school activities - make it okay for children to sign up for the site, regardless if the child meets or not the required age.

Working parents were discovered to have children who are more addictive to technology, which is brought about by the absence of much-needed parental supervision, when compared to families with only one employed parent. Rawat agrees that the lack of parental supervision coupled with easy availability of such technology results to a growing risk of addiction in technology.  As expected, the trend is more visible in metros where it's normal that both parents are working, says the survey.

Which is why the ASSOCHAM survey advises parents to have a transparent and genuine two-way communication with their children in order to establish "a safe and positive cyber experience."

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