Social Networking

Social Networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest and LinkedIn) are now a part of everyday life for many young people and adults. Social networking sites allow users to register their details, find friends or contacts with common interests or those they know in ‘real life’, and share their thoughts, photos, videos, and so forth.

Social networking sites are hugely popular and can be fantastic tools for networking with like minds, finding information, connecting with old friends, driving sales for businesses, and many other uses. According to the charity ChildNet, 63% of children and young people aged 9-16 report having a profile on the social networking site Facebook.

However, often children and young people are not equipped with the understanding and awareness to always navigate these websites safely and appropriately.

Most social networking sites require users to be at least thirteen years old to register, including Facebook, but many children far younger regularly by-pass the rules, with or without their parent’s knowledge and consent.

Social Networking and Young People: Points to Consider

  • Young people may not know how to manage their privacy settings to ensure their posts, photos and information are not available to be publically viewed. Encourage your child to regularly check their settings and ensure only friends can view their profile.
  • There is a trend amongst young people to ‘collect friends’ or contacts on social networking sites – the more friends a person has, the more popular they are deemed to be. Ensure children only add people they know in the real world, and discuss the potential for online contacts to not be who they say they are and appear to be, as it is easy to create a fake online persona.
  • As opposed to other social networking sites like Facebook, comments posted on Twitter are in the public domain (unless a person chooses to ‘protect’ and hide their tweets). Recent cases of celebrities sending racist, inappropriate and harassing tweets have been investigated by the police, highlighting the real-world impact of online behaviour.
  • Support your child to Google themselves and find what information about them is online.