Divorcebook: a third of UK break-ups blame the social network REUTERS

A lot of parents keep their under-aged kids off Facebook, but some still encourage and help their 12-year-olds create accounts. A new study surveying parents found that more than half (55 percent) of them were aware of their 12-year-old's accounts.

Surveying a total of 1,007 parents, the study was conducted by education leaders and Microsoft Research. They found that more than three-fourths (82 percent) of surveyed parents either knew when the accounts were created or (76 percent) helped create the accounts themselves. According to the study, some of these parents explain that keeping their kids off the site may otherwise close them off to educational and social opportunities.

What's the problem? Well, for one thing, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) says that children using social networking sites must be age 13 or older. Therefore, these accounts not only violate that act, but may make it even harder for federal efforts to keep kids online experience safe.

Facebook prompts the user for a birthday to verify their age, but kids (and their parents) can easily make up a different birthday to get past this. Creating an account is only where it begins. Connecting 12-year-olds and younger to social networking sites open them up to a host of other dangers when sharing content is easier than ever.

The government is now looking in to revise the 1998 COPPA to adapt to current times. In 1998, Facebook did not even exist. Beyond that, mobile platforms and geo-locative date are also new to the social networking scene, making it even easier to share information about ourselves. Facebook says they try to remove and under-age accounts-up to 20,000 accounts are deleted a day, FTC Commissioner Mozelle Thompson commented back in March.

The new study also hints at the same problem with other general-audience social media sites and communication services, such as Gmail and Skype, both of which connect youngsters with people on the Internet. The presence of social media in our lives is ever growing, but does this mean we should sign on to social networking sites as soon as we know how to punch a few keys and click a mouse?

Where should the line be drawn? Let us know what you think in the comments below!