Social media

Social media refers to a range of websites and apps that let you create a personal profile to communicate and engage with others online. This is known as social networking.

Your social media profile will usually include personal information – your name, interests, ideas, where you work or go to school and the city, town or village you live in.

Facebook social media account

Once you have set up your profile, you can build your social network by adding ‘friends’ or ‘following’ people. Be careful accepting friends or followers that you don’t actually know because not everyone is who they say they are online.

From your profile you can share personal information, photos, videos and other content with other users.

Some of the most popular social media sites and apps include:

  • Facebook – the best known social media platform, it lets you easily communicate with others and share photos, videos and other content
  • Twitter – a social messaging tool where you can share and read short messages or status updates known as ‘tweets’
  • Instagram – a photo and video sharing app
  • YouTube – a video-sharing platform where you can watch and upload videos
  • Snapchat – a popular ‘erasable’ media app where you can exchange images, video, messages and drawings
  • Kik Messenger – an instant messaging app, the same as texting Tumblr – blogging short snippets of text.

When you use social media you must obey the rules outlined in the terms and conditions.

To show respect to others and yourself in the online community, you also shouldn’t:

  • put others down
  • abuse people
  • share unsafe content
  • share hate.

Live streaming

Icons showing a person doing live streaming by using video broadcastingSome social media apps now have a ‘go live’ feature that lets you broadcast video in real-time. Users can view broadcasts from anyone in the world.

Some apps allow users to chat, read viewers comments and respond verbally or visually during the broadcast.

If you ‘go live’, think about your surroundings and any identifying features that could give away your name and where you are.

If you have your location set during a live broadcast it might be possible for other users to work out exactly where you are. Check out our page on Geotagging to find out more about location settings.

Challenges of social media

The biggest challenges on social media are:

You might be exposed to online grooming, cyberbullying or inappropriate content. You may also experience aggressive or unfriendly contact from friends or followers .

Top tips

  • Be careful accepting friend or follower requests from people you don’t know.
  • Your personal information, such as full name, age, school or workplace, shouldn’t be shared online.
  • Make sure you set up secure privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  • Learn how to block and report friends, followers, pages and groups.
  • Know how to get help on the social media websites and apps you use.