Social Media

Social media are apps and websites where you can connect and share content with friends. On these services you are often able to share and view a whole range of media such as video, photos, music and chat. Popular social media services include: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter.

Questions you may have:

  • How old do you need to be to use social media? Open or Close

    Although it can vary, for many of the most popular services you must be at least 13 years old to create an account. It’s important to check the terms and conditions before signing up to make sure you are old enough. If you create an account before you reach the minimum age, it may be deleted.

  • Someone is pretending to be me on social media, what can I do? Open or Close

    If someone has created an account pretending to be you, this is called ‘impersonation’. You should be able to report this directly to the social media platform where it is happening but it is also a really good idea to talk to someone you know and trust who can support you. Find out more about how to report here.

  • What can I do if someone has posted something I don’t like on their social media? Open or Close

    Generally people have freedom of speech on social media, just as they do offline. This means that just because you dislike what they have shared, it isn’t necessarily wrong of them to have shared it. However, if the content they have posted breaks the law or the rules of the platform they shared it on, you may be able to report it and have it removed. For example, if it could be categorised as bullying or hate speech. If someone has shared something online which is upsetting you, it’s important to talk to an adult you know and trust for support and help.

  • Who owns the pictures I share on social media? Open or Close

    You own any original content you share (e.g. photos you have taken or things you have written yourself). However, you may find that as part of the terms and conditions, you have also granted that social media service certain rights to reuse, distribute or modify your content for free, for any reason, anywhere in the world.

  • What parts of my social media profiles can be seen by other people? Open or Close

    This will depend on your privacy settings as if your profile is not set to private, it may be visible to anyone in full. Generally, if your account is private there will still be parts that people not following you can see. These include: your profile picture, username (or handle) and bio.

    Some social media platforms have tools that allow you to see what your profile looks like to the public, but another easy way to check is to have someone you know look up your account before you have added them as a friend or follower.

  • How do I stop people/accounts I don’t know contacting me through social media? Open or Close

    Using the privacy settings you may be able to limit how easy it is to find your account, who can send you messages and what parts of your profile are public. If a particular individual is repeatedly trying to contact you, then you should speak to an adult you know and trust. You may also want to consider using the report button or blocking them.

  • Spending time on social media always leaves me feeling stressed or upset. What should I do? Open or Close

    Whilst many people choose to have fun with their friends online, there are other types of content being shared which can be upsetting or worrying. Social media can be used as a space to talk about the news, or current events, to share images that others may be upset by, or to bully other people. If you don’t like the content you see on social media, you can unfollow the person who posted it, report it if it breaks the site’s rules, and most importantly speak to an adult for support. If you find that spending long amounts of time on social media leaves you feeling stressed or upset, make sure you practice self-care and take a break to recharge.

  • I’m using social media more, is this okay? (COVID-19) Open or Close

    It is very likely, and completely understandable, that you’re using social media more often during COVID-19. The restrictions in place have meant that we are unable to spend time with our family and friends, in the way that we’d like to, and social media can be a great way of staying in touch with people.

    Just make sure that you are taking regular screen breaks and trying to keep a balance of other activities, such as going for a walk outside, or doing something else offline. Do ensure that you are also giving yourself enough time to complete any school work that you have been set. 

Top Tips

  1. Choose who you accept as a friend or follower carefully. Remember that not everyone online is who they say there are, and if you’re unsure it’s always safest to stick to people you know offline as well.
  2. Explore using privacy settings to protect the things you post online and how much you share with others. In particular, you should always keep personal information private or avoid sharing it online at all.
  3. Remember that what you share on social media can shape your online reputation. Think carefully about how the people who see your posts will feel about what you’re sharing and remember that once it’s online it can be difficult (or impossible) to take back.
  4. Social media isn’t always a positive space, and some young people have told us that spending long amounts of time on their feed can negatively impact their emotions. Remember to take a break if you need it.
  5. Most social media sites have reporting tools to supports users; if something or someone is upsetting or harassing you, then make a report. All reports are anonymous and will be responded to promptly. Our help page has more information on how to report.