Children as young as 11 are aware of how they present themselves online, says AXA.

Research conducted by the Ambition AXA Awards for talented young people revealed that while three quarters of 11 to 18 year olds use social media sites including Facebook, Bebo and Twitter to keep in touch with friends and family, more than a third (36 percent) also admit to using the sites to "tell people about themselves".

More than one in five (21 percent) claim they make friends with people they don't know on social networks to appear to have more friends, while 18 percent exaggerate their social activities online to seem cooler and the same amount also de-tag unflattering pictures of themselves

The survey revealed 18 percent of 11 to 12 year olds believe using a professional photograph as their profile picture will improve their personal image online

"The importance of social media to today's generation cannot be underestimated. The fact that two-thirds of children as young as 11 are already using social media sites to create – and manipulate – their online 'brand' seems to be driven by the ambition to 'look good', perhaps driven by influential celebrity culture," said Jason Bradbury, presenter of the Gadget Show and a judge of the science category of the Ambition AXA Awards

"However, rather than exaggerate or deceive others by manipulating their profile, children should be encouraged to get out there and achieve – no faking necessary."