Almost 40% Of European Pre-Teens Are On Facebook

According to a new survey by the European Commission, 38 percent of European kids ages 9 through 12 are part of the social network, and almost 80 percent of teens are too.

Almost two out of every five nine through 12-year-olds in Europe have profiles on Facebook — just like their peers in the U.S. — and the figure rises up to almost 80 percent for teenagers aged 13 through 16.

These findings come from a European Union Commission survey of 25,000 youth on the continent, according to the French newspaper Le Monde.

And the figures are worrisome not so much because the kids are present on the social network at all — although Facebook’s own rules require users be at least 13 years of age — but because a lot of them don’t know how to manage their privacy settings and are thus vulnerable to predators. According to the European survey, 25 percent of children and teens have their profile set to public, and one in five include either their home address or phone number on their profile.

The Facebooking trend among very young kids isn’t only European, as the numbers are pretty close the number of underage U.S. Facebookers.

Both in the case of American and European teens, it seems like it’s the parents who have adopted a relaxed and liberal attitude towards their kids belonging to a site like Facebook. The problem seems to be that parents are unaware of the risks or how to placate them. Isn’t it irresponsible to not check your kid’s Facebook profile for revelatory information, such as his or her phone number or home address?

Kids, on the other hand, seem to learn the risks of being online quickly as they grow older: While only 56 percent of eleven- and twelve-year-olds in Europe reported having modified their profiles at all to protect their privacy, about 78 percent of 15 and 16 years old knew how to do this. But what if something happens to your child in the meantime?

Why do you think that a large portion of parents aren’t effectively managing their kids’ online presences?