London - More than one in four nine and ten-year-olds use social networking websites, a major study has found.
Primary school pupils are routinely lying about their age to circumvent rules designed to ban them from sites such as Facebook.
Many have hundreds of online “friends” or contacts, which can include complete strangers.
With social networks admitting that information given by users about their age is not routinely verified, there are fears that even younger children could be using the websites and putting themselves at risk of online grooming.
The concerns follow one of the most wide-ranging and comprehensive studies ever conducted on children’s use of the internet, spanning 33 European countries.