If you think it's hard to keep underage kids from buying booze and cigarettes, just try keeping them off line. Need evidence? Look no further than the latest Consumer Reports State of the Net survey.
The magazine's projections indicate that 7.5 million of the 20 million minors who used Facebook in the last year, 7.5 million were younger than 13, even though Facebook's trms of service require users to be at least 13.
Not only were many young users under 13, the magazine found that more than 5 million were 10 and under, and most of their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents, exposing them to malware or serious threats such as predators or bullies.
The report on Internet security, which includes the full survey results and advice for parents of Facebook users, is featured in the June issue ofConsumer Reportsand on www.ConsumerReports.org.
“Despite Facebook’s age requirements, many kids are using the site who shouldn’t be,” says Jeff Fox, Technology Editor forConsumer Reports. “What’s even more troubling was the finding from our survey that indicated that a majority of parents of kids 10 and under seemed largely unconcerned by their children’s use of the site.”
Using Facebook presents children and their friends and family with safety, security and privacy risks. In the past year, the use of Facebook has exposed more than five million online U.S. households to some type of abuse including virus infections, identity theft, and — for a million children — bullying, the survey shows.
Social media is just one of the many ways consumers expose themselves and make themselves vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity theft or having to replace their computer. Earlier this year,Consumer Reportssurveyed 2,089 online households nationwide and found that one-third had experienced a malicious software infection in the previous year.Consumer Reportsestimates that malware cost consumers $2.3 billion last year and forced them to replace 1.3 millions PCs.
Increasing dependence on mobile phones has made consumers more susceptible to threats as well. Using data from the survey,Consumer Reportsprojects that millions of people jeopardize bank information, medical records, and other sensitive data by storing it on their mobile phones. Almost 30 percent of respondents who said they use their phones in such ways didn’t take precautions to secure their phonesCyber.