Conservative MP, John Whittingdale, discovered firsthand about the problems of underage usage of social networking sites when it was revealed his daughter was one of those breaking the “over 13s only” policy.
In a parliamentary committee meeting Mr Whittingdale, chairman of the culture, media and sport committee, questioned representatives of the Bebo and MySpace websites as part of an inquiry into the dangers of the internet.
Quizzing Rachell O’Connell, Bebo’s chief safety officer, he observed “My daughter is 12 and she has been on Bebo for at least 18 months and I think every single one of her friends is and spends hours on it.” “Do you think that is inappropriate?” he asked.
To which O’Connell smoothly pointed out that his daughter is breaking the age limit of 13. And without so much as a smug grin either.
“I shall plainly have to go and talk to her,” the MP observed.
All this was revealed just a few weeks after Ofcom reported that more than 25% of children aged eight to 11 have profiles on a social networking website.
Parents and teachers have been shocked to discover that when it comes to drop-down age verification measures, those wily urchins have developed an ingenious means of circumventing them… by telling porky pies.
God, but they’re devious little bastards aren’t they? Next thing you know they’ll be able to complete complex logic puzzles and will become self-aware.
The upshot of these shocking revelations is still being considered. Bebo’s safety officer admitted that “We still need to educate parents and young people about using the internet safely.” Education is a good start of course. Perhaps that will prevent mass hysteria when more parents learn that their pre-pubescents have all signed to a morally corrupting social networking websites.
However, if Bebo really did want to prevent under 13s from using its service, it would have done its research and realised that there is an utterly infallible means of accurately calculating someone’s age: the 1987 Leisure Suit Larry age verification test.
Not only did it prevent me as a teenage boy from goggling at the pixelated titties, but when I went back to the series in a fit of nostalgia some 15 years later, it correctly calculated that I was then over 25. Genius.
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