Facebook is a major influence on girls, says survey

Facebook has become one of the biggest influences on the lives of girls, according to a survey.

A study of eight to 15-year-olds for National Family Week found 40% of girls identified Facebook as one of the most important things in their lives - compared with 6% of boys.

Parents were found to underestimate the significance of technology.

The role of social networking was particularly important in families with a single mother as parent.

The survey, carried out last month and based on 3,000 parents and 1,000 children across the UK, looked at the perceptions of children and parents of family life.

Online life

It was commissioned by National Family Week - an event supported by charities including the NSPCC and the Women's Institute - which encourages families to spend more time together.

The survey presents a picture of girls using social networking as something central to their social and family life.

Girls saw websites such as Facebook as much more influential than television, magazines, celebrities and even their own brothers and sisters.

Asked to name the three most important things in their lives, the most popular choices for girls were friends, family and then Facebook and MSN.

For boys, family was much more of a popular choice - chosen by 73% of boys, compared with 53% of girls. For their other choices, boys identified money and friends as their next most important things.

Social networking was a much lower priority for boys - only 6% selecting it in their top three things in their lives, compared with 40% of girls.

Girls are also more likely to believe that technology - in the form of social networking and mobile phones - has a major influence on their lives.

While 41% of girls think technology is one of their biggest influences, only 17% of boys believe this.

Relationship with parents

Girls see their big influences as parents, teachers and technology - while boys identify parents, friends and school.

The survey claims that parents have failed to keep up with their children's use of technology, overestimating their own importance in their children's lives.

According to Facebook's own policy, children should not register to use the website until they are aged 13.

The survey also looked at how children viewed their relationships with their parents.

It found that both boys and girls would much rather have stories read to them by their mother - but that girls felt closer to their fathers, while boys felt closer to their mothers.

Bangladesh 'blocks Facebook' over political cartoons

Bangladesh has blocked access to Facebook after satirical images of the prophet Muhammad and the country's leaders were uploaded, say reports.

One man has been arrested and charged with "spreading malice and insulting the country's leaders" with the images, an official told the AFP news agency.

Officials said the ban was temporary and access to the site would be restored once the images were removed.

It comes after Pakistan invoked a similar ban over "blasphemous content".

A spokesman for the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) told AFP Facebook had "hurt the religious sentiments of the country's majority Muslim population" by carrying "offensive images" of Mohammed.

"Some links in the site also contained obnoxious images of our leaders including the father of the nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the leader of the opposition," said the commission's acting chair, Hasan Mahmud Delwar.

On Saturday, one man was arrested by the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) in Dhaka and charged with uploading the images.

"Facebook will be re-opened once we erase the pages that contain the obnoxious images," said Mr Delwar.

Pakistan blocked all access to Facebook - along with YouTube, Wikipedia and Flickr - last week after images of Muhammad started to appear online.

People were invited to submit their images of him in the run-up to "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" held by some users of Facebook on 20 May.

Most Muslims consider representations of the Prophet Muhammad to be blasphemous.

Thousands of people joined anti-Facebook protests in Bangladesh on Friday demanding the site be blocked over the contest.