Social networks provide children and adults with ways to communicate online. Most of these sites have age limits whereby you need to be at least 13 years old to sign up for example Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter.
The reasons that these age limits are in place are due to them:
- Containing too much information - Social networks let you post all kinds of information. The more information that a person posts online, the more people can find out about them.
- Digital Footprints - Things that are posted on social networks can be difficult to delete – other people could have copied them or shared them.
- It is easy to lie online - It is very easy for people to set up fake profiles online. People could easily lie about their gender or age to build up a friendship
- Anti-social Networking - Even though social networks can be a great communication tool, they can also be used to cause harm or embarrassment to individuals through sharing nasty pictures or making inappropriate comments.
- Being open for anyone to share anything - you might find comments or pictures offensive.
If your child uses a social network. Please help them to stay safe by:
- Talking to them about internet safety and the risks involved often.
- Explore online together.
- Know who your child is talking to - this may be through being their friend on social media sites so that you are aware of their posts and friends list.
- Set rules and agree boundaries.
- Make sure that the content is age appropriate.
- Ensuring they only communicate with / accept people they know.
- Making sure the pictures / information they share are appropriate.
- Using privacy settings so that only their friends can see their information.
- Knowing how to report inappropriate actions to the social networking site.
- Understanding who they can talk to if they need help.
- Use parental controls to filter, restrict and monitor.
(Information from the site - Thinkuknow and NSPCC)