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'Parents help children on Facebook'
Parents are helping their children break strict Facebook rules banning youngsters under 13 setting up profiles, the Government has said.
Children's Minister Tim Loughton accused mothers and fathers of "aiding and abetting" pre-teens to open accounts on the social networking site.
The revelation came as Labour MP Ann Coffey urged the Government and mobile phone companies to do more to combat "sexting", where teenagers send sexual pictures of themselves to each other using camera phones.
Tory minister Mr Loughton, who has three teenage children, said parents had a responsibility to monitor youngsters online, adding: "Having a Facebook page, you should be at least 13 to do that. That is not legally enforceable.
"We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with those social media.
"And I also know that in too many cases they do that aided and abetted by parents. So it's not just a question of giving information to parents, it's making sure parents are acting responsibly on behalf of their children too."
Earlier in the Westminster Hall debate, Stockport MP Ms Coffey said youngsters who sent explicit images to their boyfriends and girlfriends risked having those pictures shown around playgrounds by boastful teens.
She said: "Once taken and sent, the sender loses control of these images and they could end up anywhere from being passed all around school to being viewed and passed on by paedophiles."
She also claimed pornographic pictures willingly uploaded to the internet could be shared with the world without the subject's consent, a practice known as "doxing".
Ms Coffey, who said a key problem was youngsters seeing the texts as harmless fun, added: "Sexting becomes a tool of coercion, threat and power as young people are encouraged to take pictures or videos or themselves, initially often for a financial reward or because they are groomed into thinking the person is their boyfriend."