Introduction

Social media can be a great way to connect with new friends, and to stay in touch with old friends from school, college or clubs. It can be a place to upload and share your photo’s, thoughts, and find out about what is happening in your community and with the friends in your own network.

There are different social media sites/platforms. You do not have to use them all. Some people only use one or may have a favourite social media network to use.

So, what are the social media networks you may want to use?

Facebook

This is a social networking site where people can post comments, share links to websites, upload pictures, and see what their ‘friends are up to’. Using this app you must ‘add friends’ to your social network to connect, but be aware you should have your Facebook set to ‘private’ so that people you do not know can not access your pictures and information.

Twitter

This is a social media and online news site which allows people to communicate in short messages called ‘tweets’. It is often used for ‘trending’ news and discussions and is generally less personal than Facebook. Users may choose to ‘follow’ each other.

Instagram

This is a social media app that allows its users to post their own pictures and videos from their lives and add captions, comments and filters. Users can search for pictures and see associated pictures/videos by searching specific hashtags. For example, searching #Belfast will bring up all the photo’s people in Belfast have taken and tagged. This will work for other hashtags. For example, #dogs #summer #football.

 

Snapchat

This is a multimedia messaging app (photo/video) which friends can share photo’s and video’s that will delete after viewing. It is a quick way to share a photo and video straight away. Whilst apps and social media sites like Facebook and Instagram store and display your multimedia for everybody to see, Snapchat will delete your messages usually straight away after whoever you send it to views it.

WhatsApp

This is a messenger app for smartphones which is free to download. It is used to send messages, images, video or audio. This is a similar service to using text messages or phone calls from your smartphone. The main difference is that WhatsApp uses internet rather than your mobile phones allowance.

Online Gaming

Online gaming can be a place where you hang out with your current friends, or a potential place to speak to new people with similar interests. However, be aware that you do not fully know these people, and that online gaming can be a dangerous place as people may try to get personal information and details from you. You should NEVER give out your identity online. This includes your name, address, and any details that may help people to find/identify you.

Dangers of Social Media

There can be many dangers in using Social Media. For example.

  • Trolling – This is when people write or send rude or upsetting comments about you or your pictures/content. People who write rude comments can be dealt with by police and or courts. It is important to only share with and add people to your network who are your real friends to minimalise any chance of this happening.
  • Going Viral – Anything you post could ‘go viral’, meaning hundreds and maybe thousands of people could view what you have uploaded. You should not post or send anything that may make other people uncomfortable or that you would not want other people such as family and other friends to see.
  • Stranger Danger – You would not give a stranger in the street your phone to look through your pictures and messages, so do not add or accept people you do not know on social media networks.
  • Social Media addiction – People can become addicted to social media and spend much of their time on it rather than meeting their friends or doing other things. It is important to understand that spending too much time on social media can be bad for mental health.
  • Inappropriate content – If you post inappropriate or rude pictures, posts, or videos you may get in trouble for this with friends, family, police, or courts. YOU are responsible for your own actions on your social media accounts.

It is important to understand that when you share a picture, video, or message with people – it can be saved or stored by everybody who has access to it. This means if you upload a photo to Facebook and delete it, other people may have already saved it, and this could be posted without your consent or knowledge. Once you upload something publicly, you no longer have full control over who can see it.

How to Stay safe online

  • Do not give out personal information for example email address, phone number, home address, bank card details.
  • Think carefully about the pictures you upload online – do not upload or post anything you would not want your parents, carers, teachers, or future employers seeing .
  •  Keep your privacy setting as high as possible 
  • Never give out your password- use a strong password (with Capital letters, numbers and symbols).
  • Rember not everyone online is who they say they are.
  • Do not befriend people you don’t know.
  • Do not meet up with someone you have only met online – speak to a family member or carer. 
  • Think carefully about what you are saying before you post it online.
  • Respect other people’s views- even if you do not agree with them.
  • If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or worried- report or block the account and tell someone.