The Apple iPad is examined after its unveiling at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

London - Parenets are responsible for the rise of young children using Facebook, an executive from the website has warned.

Simon Milner, policy director for Facebook in the UK and Ireland, was joined by Sonia Livingstone, professor of social psychology of the London School of Economics, in warning that parents were flouting the site’s age restrictions by either helping their children create accounts or failing to be firm with them and stop them from signing up.

As a result youngsters who use Facebook risk being exposed to porn and online grooming.

The site sets a minimum membership age of 13.

Milner admits there is ‘no mechanism’ to stop youngsters lying about how old they are.

Professor Livingstone said figures from two years ago show that 34 percent of nine to 12-year-olds in the UK had a Facebook profile, adding it ‘can only have gone up since then’. She suggested the starting age was reaching children aged ten to 11.

Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, Professor Livingstone, who researches children and internet use, urged parents to be stricter, saying: ‘If parents say ‘no, you’re too young’, young children will listen to that… Parents should say no.’

Milner, who was at the same event, said: ‘I am well aware of research which shows there are a lot of 11, 12, or even younger children who have Facebook accounts and lie about their age. The research also shows that, in the great majority, parents not only know about this but actually help their children do this. Just to be clear, we don’t condone it.’

He admitted preventing under-age children from signing on was a ‘tricky’ area:

‘We haven’t got a mechanism for eradicating the problem.’

Spot checks and a reporting system are in place in an attempt to protect youngsters, he said. - Daily Mail