Thirty-eight percent of kids on Facebook under 13?

A survey suggests that a large proportion of the kids on Facebook are just that--kids 12 and under. But you're supposed to be at least 13. Is this another case of Facebook not policing itself?

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

There's no reason to be worried that your kids are using Facebook. After all, the age limit is 13, so Facebook's expert surveillance tools will, like a fine barkeep, immediately spot an underage participator and toss him into purgatory for a year or two.

Or not quite.

A new survey suggests, in fact, that 38 percent of the kids on Facebook are not alright by Facebook's age rules. For they are aged 12 or younger.

The survey perpetrated by a company called Minor Monitor -- yes, you can see the self-interest in these finding wafting in the wind here --offers that 4 percent of the kids on Facebook are 6 years old or less.

Yes, in real age, rather than any mental equivalent.

If this somehow approximates to the truth, one wonder how many of these children's parents actually know or even care. Seventeen percent of parents in this survey said that they don't track their children's Facebook activity at all -- though more than half admitted that they logged in to their kids' accounts just to see what was going on.

Of course, almost three-quarters of the parents surveyed here said they were worried about their children's safety on Facebook. There lurk predators, bullies, and all sorts of unsavory characters in its pages. How can children so young be expected to be prepared for what they might find?

But here's an interesting number for those who worry whether Facebook has simply become a default automatic human activity, like eating or watching "American Idol": 30 percent of the kids surveyed here were on Facebook for two or more hours a day.

Some might wonder whether this might cut into their homework or their Romanian dancing practices. Fewer, perhaps, might wonder how this apparently large element of children on the site allows marketers to target them at a very young age.

Though Facebook claims it throws out about 20,000 underage kids every day, one has to imagine how hard the company tries (or wants to try), given the ease with which its systems can apparently be circumvented.

It's always the case that when you tell kids they can't do something, they will try only the harder to do it.

Some parents, though, might be rather pleased that their kids have found an activity that they can pursue in relative peace and solitude.

Though parents offer expressions of concern, how much are they secretly overjoyed that little Freda has lots of virtual friends, for whom there's no need to organize a house party at all?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
 

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