Ready for social networking?

Want to stay in touch with your friends online?

You’ll know there are lots of ‘social networking’ websites and mobile apps that people use to chat, comment, share pictures and game with their friends.

You probably also know that for most of these sites, like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, Tumblr, Kik. OOvoo or Twitter, and for most of these you should be at least 13 years old to sign up.

What are the consequences?
Find out how some people use social networks to hurt young people and what you can do to be safer when using them.

Some things to remember

  • Too much information.
    Social networks let you post all kinds of information. The more information you put online the more people can find out about you. Some people might use this to bully you or contact you and lie about being into the same things as you.

  • Digital footprints.
    What TV shows did you find funny a few years ago? Do you still think they’re funny now? As we get older our interests and the things we find funny change. The problem is things you post on social networks can be difficult to delete – other people could have copied them or shared them. Will you want things you post today to be hanging around in a few years time? Find out more about digital footprints

  • It’s easy to lie online.
    Some people set up fake profiles on social networks. They even pretend to be girls or boys your age when actually they’re much older. It can be really hard to tell the difference between someone who’s genuine and a fake.

  • Anti-social networking.
    Just as social networks can be used to share lots of great information about yourself and stay in touch with all your friends – they can also be used to share nasty things - embarrassing pictures, horrible comments, fake profiles – and say nasty things to people.

5 Tips for safer social networking

If you use social networks always think about who can see the things you post and what they reveal about you.

  • Know who your friends are.
    It’s really tempting to accept as many friend requests or follows as possible. It can make us feel popular. But remember, they could be anyone. Do you really want them seeing your pictures, videos or comments?

  • Share with care.
    Once you’ve put something online you’ve lost control of it – it can be copied, shared or edited. It could turn up anywhere. You might be happy showing a funny picture to your friends but would you want your parents or teachers to see it?

  • Use privacy settings.
    Most social networks let you limit what you share to friends or followers you’ve OKed. It’s always a good idea to only let people you know and trust see your stuff. Learn how to use privacy settings and how to block people who are bothering you.

  • Know how to report.
    Most social networks let you report to them if you have a problem on their site. So if someone’s shared an embarrassing picture or is being nasty to you, you need to know how to get help. Learn how to report on any site or app you use by visiting their ‘safety’ pages. Find the Safety pages of popular sites

  • Know how to get help.
    If someone’s bullying you on a social network you should talk to an adult you trust, report it using this SHARP reporting system or, if you’d rather you can call Childline on 0800 1111. If someone’s being weird or making you feel uncomfortable, talking about sex or asking you to do things you don’t want to do you should report it.
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