One in three children lie about their age in order to have access to adult content on social media platforms. 

The majority of social media platforms including Instagram have a age restriction in place where under 13’s are unable to sign up, while accounts for under 18’s have ‘limited’ access and function however researchers have found that children are in fact lying about their age in order to bypass the rules.

Figures show that 32% of children have an account which is intended for adults, while 47% of children aged 8 to 15 have a user age of 16 and over, 60% of children under the age of 13 who use social media accounts have their own profiles, despite not being old enough.

Ofcom have said this is concerning as it increases the risk that children are able to access and see harmful content. Anna-Sophie Harling, from Ofcom, said the way social media platforms categorised users by age had a “huge impact” on the content they were shown.

When children are repeatedly exposed to images and videos that contain certain things they’re led to act in a different way or to think differently about themselves or their friends, If under 18’s are able to access the potentially harmful content it may have a significant effect on them as they are still developing. The issue is that social media has a lot of influence over the younger generation and social media platforms need to tackle this in order to prevent exposure to those underage. 

A spokesperson from Meta who owns Facebook and Instagram referred to the latest work which they are working on in order to verify the ages of younger users, such as allowing people to “ask others to vouch for their age” or using technology which analyses videos people take of themselves.
While TikTok and Twitter are yet to comment on what their plans are to tackle the rise in underage children using social media.