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Quarter of eight-to-12-year-olds have social network profiles

LONDON - A quarter of children aged eight to 12 who use the internet at home say they have a profile on Facebook, Bebo or MySpace despite the sites' minimum user age of 13, according to new research.

Facebook: popular site among children

Facebook: popular site among children

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Three quarters of children use the internet at home, according to Ofcom's annual Children's Media Literacy Audit, which states that 83% of these children set their profile to be seen only by friends.

One in six parents of this group of children are not aware that their child visits social networking sites, but of those who are aware 93% say they check what their child is doing on them.

There was also a surprisingly high familiarity with Facebook from younger children, showing how the site is dominating people's online lives. Just over a third (37%) visited Facebook in October 2009, though they did not necessarily have a profile.

The proportion of eight-to-15-year-old home internet users who download or watch TV programmes of films on the internet has increased from 17% in 2008 to 21% in 2009.

In the 12 to 15 age group 44% said they thought downloading shared copies of films and music for free should not be illegal.

On television the most viewed shows among children aged 10 to 15 in 2009 were the 'The X Factor' and 'Britain's Got Talent'. In the four-to-nine-year-olds' category those shows were beaten into second and third place by 'The Gruffalo', broadcast on the BBC on Christmas Day.

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