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BBC Newsround uncovers widespread underage social media usage

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By John Glenday, Reporter

February 9, 2016 | 2 min read

A new survey conducted by BBC Newsround to coincide with Safer Internet Day has found that over three-quarters of children aged 10-12 were active on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp - despite an age limit of 13 being in place for such activities.

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A total of 1,000 young people aged 10 to 18 were quizzed for the research with 78 per cent of under 13s freely admitting to have signed up to at least one social media account, rising to 96 per cent for those aged 13 to 18.

Facebook was the most popular choice amongst under age users with 49 per cent of those polled admitting to having an account, closely followed by Instagram where 41 per cent of 10 to 12 year old’s asked were present.

Responding to the report an Instagram spokesperson told the BBC: “We require anyone on Instagram to be over the age of 13, and we have clear community guidelines and in-app tools to help people report anything that may make them feel uncomfortable.”

Whilst the bulk of online interactions were innocuous the report warned that experiences could be negative, particularly for older teenagers more prone to spreading gossip and falling victim to bullying.

An Instagram spokesperson said: “Keeping the community safe on Instagram is our number one priority and we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can create a safe, open and friendly environment. We require anyone on Instagram to be over the age of 13 and we have clear Community Guidelines and in-app tools to help people report anything that may make them feel uncomfortable. We also work closely with safety experts, including the UK Safer Internet Centre, to help educate young people, parents and the wider community about how to stay safe online."

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