Help for parents, children and young people
These safety messages are for parents, carers, children, and young people.
1. Safety tips for parents and carers
You should not be afraid to become involved in your children’s online activities. Children are best protected when they communicate with their parents or carers.
Pay particular attention to:
- the terms and conditions (i.e. the rules for using the site), and particularly to what is acceptable behaviour or not on the site
- the safety advice that is provided;
- privacy controls – the default setting for all profiles is “private” - and how they can be changed ; and
- reporting concerns – check how users can contact or report any difficulties they are having to the service provider or other agencies
Teach children the importance of registering their correct age to ensure that the safety protection tools provided for those under the age of 18 are applied to them so they get the most appropriate content and experience.
Remind your child to review their contact/friends list on a regular basis to make sure they want to share their information with everyone on their Friend list.
Discuss with your child the mechanisms available to them to manage their profile. All users can change their privacy settings, block users and report abuse, and have the option to cancel their account.
Striking a balance
Children and young people have strong views about their privacy and it will be important for you to help your child to use the site responsibly and safely, while respecting their privacy.
There is an important balance between educating children and young people about the risks online, viewing what they are doing and actually trusting them in their use of social networking sites and allowing them a degree of autonomy.
That being said, for users under the age of 14 years, parents can authorise their child's account. Parents can then view stuff posted by their child, and receive notifications of friend requests and friend acceptances, and of "I like it" and "Add to my stuff" sharing. In these circumstances, an email notification will be sent to the parent.
This parental overview option is invisible to all other users.
It is critical that children and young people understand the importance of protecting their privacy online.
It is important that children and young people think carefully about adding someone they have only met online to their ‘friends list’ even if another friend has recommended them – people are not always who they claim to be.
Talk to your child about the importance of keeping the password to their account or space private to protect against someone taking control of it.
Mobile phones can be easily lost or stolen. It is a good idea to set up a PIN lock on your child’s mobile, so it cannot be used without their permission or if it is lost or stolen.
Your child should only use auto login (where the site remembers your password for you when you return to it) when logging in to the site if PIN protection is being used on their mobile. Otherwise anyone finding their mobile phone and accessing the site from it will be able to access and abuse their social network account, for example by changing their profile, or adding stuff in their name.
Ensure that your child is aware of the privacy setting options of their account. It is important that you negotiate with your child the appropriate level of privacy and that it matches their level of emotional maturity and understanding.
Advise your child to be careful not to share any information that may help locate them in the real world, for example, a photograph of a school uniform or street sign.
Managing personal images
It is very important that children and young people consider and choose carefully what they share online with friends and the wider community on the Internet, especially as photos can be easily copied and changed.
The convenience of mobile phones means it is easy to upload images and videos ‘on the go’. Particular care should be taken to ‘think before you post’ to avoid compromising privacy or safety, for example images from a party or of outrageous or compromising behaviour. If a child is posting photos containing their friends, for example, they should seek their friends’ permission first.
Photos can contain information that on its own may seem innocuous, but when put together with other information such as school details can be used to locate and identify the child.
Photos and videos should be appropriate – not sexually provocative or explicit – so as not to attract unwanted attention from adults who may wish to exploit children and young people.
Check our ‘acceptable use’ policy
Ask your child whether they are comfortable with the content they are posting being seen by everyone they know and whether it might embarrass them at a later stage.
There is NO messaging function within the site
See our policy, help in reporting abuse
2. Safety tips for children and young people
The site is lots of fun and can be a great place to share your interests, learn new skills and set new goals. However, as in the real world, it is important that you take care of yourself, your friends and the wider community.
The following tips will be useful whether you access the site through a PC, laptop, games console or mobile phone.
Stay in control: guard your privacy
Social networking sites are mostly used to connect with friends you know in the real world. So you might not think about strangers getting hold of your personal information, such as your mobile number, email address or where you live. But it is important to think about the information you post on your profile pages.
Before setting up your profile, think about who you want to see your personal information.
If you only want people you know to see information about you – leave the default setting of your profile at private. This is the recommended option.
Every now and again, look through your contacts or friends and make sure you still want them to view your profile pages. Remember, it’s not how many people you know but how well you know them.
It is important to protect your password – don’t give it to your friends even for fun. If you give it to them, you just cannot be sure who they might pass it on to.
If you use your mobile on the site, remember mobile phones can be easily lost or stolen and you don’t know who could get your information, or pretend to be you. Put a PIN lock on your mobile, so it can’t be used without your permission.
If your computer or mobile remembers your password, use a PIN number or password every time you sign in.
Make sure that you register your real age so that other people don’t think you are older than you are and treat you in a way that is inappropriate.
If you intend to share your profile and content with everyone who is online, there are several things to think about.
Are you sure you want to do this? You won’t be in control of who will see your information.
Be cautious – ‘going public’ may lead to things you didn’t mean to happen. Be careful about the kind of information (including images) you share about yourself and how you manage your online reputation.
Remember, when you ‘go public’, it is not just ‘friends of friends of friends’ but also complete strangers who will be able to see your content, search and find you online.
Remember, the World Wide Web is available to everyone, and if your profile is public, everyone can see everything you post about yourself.
Be aware of how your content could be used or misused by others. For example, pictures can be copied, or altered and posted elsewhere. You may not even know this has happened. And if you do find out about it, you may not be able to stop it or remove it. Guard your online reputation.
Information you post will reflect the kind of person you are, and it will influence what others think of you. What is your content saying about you? Think carefully before uploading content and sharing information that shows you or your friends in any compromising situation.
Don’t post images of yourself posing in a sexual or provocative way. These can cause you a lot of embarrassment or upset if misused by others in a way you didn’t anticipate, and could attract a lot of unwanted, unwelcome and inappropriate contact. Also, ask your friends first, if they are identified in the content. Protect your friends and family: they have reputations too!
It important to understand that you are not anonymous online. You can be traced even if you gave a fake email account and registration information. Every computer and device connected to the Internet has a unique address (given by your Internet service provider). This is linked to your computer in the real world – to your real-world address. The police, and some others, can access this address, and it is linked to every communication you send online.
Consider your friends – remember that what may seem funny to you can actually can be very hurtful and offensive to others. You know how easy it is to upload images ‘on the go’ using your mobile. Think carefully before you post so you don’t embarrass yourself or your friends.
Don’t post content that may be seen as racist, homophobic, bullying or threatening. Remember, these sorts of behaviours could result in your account being deleted, and the police may even get involved.
Setting up a fake page to pose as someone else may seem a clever way to embarrass the person you are impersonating. But this can have very serious consequences – to the other person and, in fact, to you, as the police may become involved.
Copyright is the protection given to authors (of writing, images, video or music). It protects them from other people copying their work without permission. It is important to respect this, make sure you get permission where necessary. If you download or copy something from the Internet without permission, there can be serious consequences, including from the police.
You can use a Creative Commons licence to make your own creative work freely available to others. For example, you can change your copyright terms from ‘all rights reserved’ to ‘some rights reserved’. See http://creativecommons.org.
There is NO messaging function within the site
See our policy, help in reporting abuse