Using social media safely with young people and Adults.
There are lots of benefits for young people and Adults when using social media.
This includes staying connected with friends and family, enabling innovative ways of learning, and creating new ways for them to express themselves.
It can also have many benefits to organisations, for example:
- Staying in contact with children outside of face-to-face meetings, activities, and events
- Providing specialist support to children, such as counselling and therapy
- Promoting events
- Livestreaming activities and running online sessions.
- Creating online groups, forums, and communities.
But there are risks when you’re using social media to communicate with children.
They may be exposed to upsetting or inappropriate content online, particularly if the platform you’re using doesn’t have robust privacy and security settings or if you’re not checking posts. This content might be sexually explicit, or it might be harmful in other ways, such as radicalisation, bullying, or content that's upsetting.
They may be at risk of being groomed if they have an online profile that means they can be contacted privately.
Some posts or profile information may expose personal information and put them at risk. For example, they may talk about their home life, feelings, or thoughts they’ve been having. There may be information that makes them identifiable such as locations of events they are taking part in or visual clues in photographs. Perpetrators may use this information to groom, abuse, or exploit vulnerable groups.
Perpetrators of abuse may create fake profiles to try to contact and through the platform you’re using, for example an adult posing as a child. They may also create anonymous accounts and engage in cyberbullying or trolling. People known to a person can also perpetrate abuse.
On many platforms, vulnerable groups can be contacted anywhere and at any time through private messaging or notification alerts. This means it’s harder for them to escape from abusive messages or upsetting content that they are tagged in.
It’s best practice for staff and volunteers not to accept friend requests on their personal accounts from children and families they work with.
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