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Social networking

Social networking describes a variety of services like Facebook, YouTube, World of Warcraft, Moshi Monsters and Twitter. All of these services enable direct interaction between individuals. Users can post information about themselves, display photos, tell people what they’ve been up to, chat and play games. Social networking forms a part of the social identity of many teens.

While social networking offers many benefits, there are risks. Sometimes children can forget who they are communicating with online and who might see the information they post. It can be easier for children and teens to say and do things online that they might not do offline. It can also be easier to talk to strangers online than it is offline, and they may confide too much in people they don’t know well.

It is important that children understand the risks associated with disclosing information about themselves online and know how to manage both their privacy and online ‘friends’.

Is my child old enough to use social media?

Is my child old enough for social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr, Twitter, Kik etc? Most high profile social networking sites ask users set up a profile with photos and information about themselves. 13 is the minimum user age required by Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Tumblr and Twitter. Kik recommends that users are 17 years or older. If your child is 13+ you should still consider the following before agreeing to unsupervised access:

Other platforms you should know about

Location based services

Many social networking sites take advantage of location-based services which enable users to report their physical location to others via their mobile phone. This is an increasingly popular function, particularly on Facebook.

Using this function, users can physically locate friends and others from social networking sites. Individuals can ‘check-in’ from a location to let others know their whereabouts.

On some social networking services the location based functions are turned on by default. To manage these services, encourage your child to review their social networking settings to block the function or to limit who sees their location based information. You may also like to contact your mobile phone company for assistance with blocking internet, Bluetooth and GPS functionality on a child’s mobile phone to limit their ability to notify others of their whereabouts. 

Chat and instant messaging

Chat and instant messaging (IM) allow users to share messages instantaneously with others. Chat rooms allow users with similar interests to send messages to each other.

Issues and complaints when using a social networking site

Concerns about social networking sites can be reported to the website administrator in first instance. Look for the contact us section of the site. Many sites have ‘report’ buttons or a contact centre to help address issues around safety, offensive content, hacking and scams.

Users can also seek independent legal advice about the options they may have for dealing with the material concerned.

The ACMA can also investigate complaints about prohibited online content. If you come across material that you think may be prohibited under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 you can report this to the ACMA’s online hotline.

If there is a threat to your child’s safety the police can help.

In a life-threatening and time-critical situation call Triple Zero (000).

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