Parents are helping their children to set up under-age profiles on social networking site Facebook, Children's Minister Tim Loughton has said.
This meant that children were getting involved in social media at too young an age, he suggested.
Mr Loughton, who has three teenage children, said parents had a responsibility to monitor youngsters online, adding: "Having a Facebook page, you should be at least 13 to do that. That is not legally enforceable.
"We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with those social media.
"And I also know that in too many cases they do that aided and abetted by parents. So it's not just a question of giving information to parents, it's making sure parents are acting responsibly on behalf of their children too."
When individuals set up Facebook accounts, they are asked to certify that they are 13 or over by entering a date of birth. If the date of birth shows them to be younger they are prevented from continuing.
Facebook insists that it's members must be aged 13 or over, ok this seems to be broadly inline with the old COPPA legislation in place across the USA since 1998, which states that "child" means an individual under the age of 13 and that to collect personal information from a child, without complying with the COPPA regulations is unlawful.
In other words, forums across the USA must ask all prospective members FIRST how old they are. If under 13 then STEP 1 is to ask the child to get a form filled out by their parents acknowledging the child has applied for membership to the forum and giving parental permission. This COPPA system goes back to the very start of the phpBB software that we use on this site, that is how I know about it.
In that sense, FACEBOOK goes even further than COPPA requires, because FACEBOOK says "Aged under 13?" NO ENTRY! COPPA Says "Aged under 13?" Get parents' approval first.
Which approach do you think is right?