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Staying safe online when using social media

This week's blog comes from the UK Safer Internet Centre and focuses on social media apps and sites.

Social media is a website or app that enables users to communicate and engage with others online. Users can share information such as posts, pictures, or videos, and users can respond through varying levels of engagement such as comments, reactions, or ‘likes’.

Best practices for parents and carers Know what privacy features are available There are a range of privacy features and parental controls you can set up on social media accounts. These often include preventing unwanted contact from strangers and limiting the exposure of posts. Consider what restrictions work best for your family, ensure age restrictions are adhered to, develop understanding within the household of safer internet use and consider how privacy features could be lifted as time goes on. Have a conversation Social media gives a lot of freedom towards how children and young people express themselves. It’s important to discuss the risks associated with engaging with strangers online, giving out too much personal information, sharing content that may be harmful or posting content that can damage someone’s reputation. Discussing these areas can help them navigate social media in a way that allows them to experience the benefits whilst also being aware of the potential risks. Be available to talk Children and young people can encounter issues online that may cause upset or panic. Ensure that you or someone you trust is available to talk to them no matter what issue they may be having. Try to help them resolve the problem without causing more worry and know where to go for further support if the situation calls for it e.g. correct reporting channels and helplines such as Childline etc. Allowing family members to feel confident to come forward for support can help prevent problems from growing. Prioritise wellbeing Social media can offer many benefits towards children and young people throughout their development but it can sometimes bring negative effects that may result in poor mental health if not managed correctly. Ensure rules and boundaries are in place at home to make sure family members are able to step away from social media and enjoy family time offline. Maintain a healthy offline/ online balance and know when to put devices down.

SWGFL have created excellent guides to many of the most popular social media apps:

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