One in three children aged 8 to 17 lied about their date of birth on social media so they looked over 18.
This is the finding of a study commissioned by regulator Ofcom amid calls for more age verification tools to be placed on internet platforms to protect children from harmful content.
Some 77% of children in the age range surveyed have at least one social media profile, and while most sites have a minimum age requirement of 13, 60% of children under 12 have one.
The study estimated that about 47 percent of the children in this group set their age at 16 or older, while 32 percent set their age at 18 or older.
The study estimates that about 23 percent of those 8 to 12-year-olds in this group had their profiles set at 18, exposing them to material aimed at adults.
The government is expected to bring the online safety bill back to Parliament.
The bill would force platforms to protect users, especially children, from illegal, dangerous and harmful content and impose hefty fines and possible bans for sites that violate the rules.
Some platforms, such as porn sites, may also have to use age verification methods to prevent children from accessing content.
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Mark Bunting, head of online policy at Ofcom, said: “The protection of children is at the heart of new online safety laws, so as we prepare for our new mandate, we will continue to build on the evidence that children experience online.
“Today’s research explores the triggers that may lead to children being harmed online, including the risk of signing up on social media platforms with false ages. This may put them at greater risk of seeing potentially harmful, age-inappropriate content.
“Children and parents in the study spoke about the potential tension between online safety concerns and increased protection, and they want young people to feel socially inclusive and have the freedom to learn how to manage risk through experience.”
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