Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Tuesday, 29 April 2008 13:07 UK

MP's daughter 'broke Bebo rules'

Mr Whittingdale is chairing an inquiry into internet dangers

A Conservative MP has been told his own 12-year-old daughter has broken a social networking site's rules, during an inquiry into internet safety.

It dawned on John Whittingdale that there might be a problem when Bebo safety chief Rachel O'Connell told him the site operated an "over 13s" policy.

To laughter, the Commons culture committee chairman was told his daughter should not be on the website.

"I shall plainly have to go and talk to her," the MP replied.

The committee Mr Whittingdale chairs is conducting an inquiry into dangers on the internet and computer games.

So my daughter shouldn't be on Bebo?
John Whittingdale

During a hearing on Tuesday, the MP asked what the minimum age was appropriate for joining Bebo - and was told under US legislation, 13 was the minimum age.

He said: "My daughter is 12, she's been on Bebo for at least 18 months.

"I think every single one of her friends is and she spends, oh, hours on it - it's universal, way below 13 - do you think that that is inappropriate?"

Dr O'Connell said when parents reported under-age use, the child's page would be deleted.

Mr Whittingdale asked: "But you said in the US it's 13 - whereas there is no such thing here."

However, Dr O'Connell replied: "That applies for our whole service."

Mr Whittingdale said: "So my daughter shouldn't be on Bebo?"

Dr O'Connell answered: "That's true."

She said many parents were unaware of the rules and children were very adept at getting around measures put in place to stop them.

"We still need to educate parents and young people about using the internet safely," she added.

Earlier this month Ofcom reported that more than 25% of children aged eight to 11 have profiles on a social networking website.

Children flock to social networks
02 Apr 08 |  Technology
Q&A: Children and safer net use
02 Apr 08 |  Technology

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