Some of the most commonly used social media resources are as follows:
- Facebook – has a strict 13+ age restriction, and personal accounts must be set up by any user. Sharing of photos, videos, online chat and involvement in groups; messages can be received by complete strangers. Strong privacy settings (“Friends only”) are available, but not applied by default – you need to set these up.
- Tik Tok – a video sharing tool which allows sharing and interaction with content posted. Requires 13+ age to sign up, but no account is needed to watch videos, which can be viewed by absolutely anybody.
- YouTube – another video sharing tool, again with online interaction and creation of a public profile by users. Age requirement to set up an account is 13+ but although some videos are flagged as age restricted, most content can be viewed by anybody – no account needed. A child-friendly version “YouTube Kids” is available for children aged 0-12, with far greater filtering and monitoring of content, and incorporating parental controls on a child account.
- Instagram – share videos and photos, including by live streaming, and receive comments – including those from strangers. 13+ to sign up, but content can be viewed without an account. There is no e-mail authentication when signing up for an account, so fake/multiple accounts are particularly rife. It is strongly advised to make account settings private and switch off location sharing when using this resource, which is possible but not set by default.
- Snapchat – a social media tool heavily focused on the younger demographic; in the United States, it is claimed that 69% of all 13-17 year olds use (or have used) this resource – and that 41% cite it as their most important online social network. Minimum age for registering is 13, and restrictions are tighter for non-members who can only view a video if an account holder sends it to them, and are not able to comment or respond to them. It is strongly recommended for users to switch on “Ghost mode” to hide personal details such as their location.
- Twitter – a resource aimed at (and largely used by) an older demographic, with a 13+ requirement to sign up. All posts are made public rather than shared with a specific group and comments can be posted with complete anonymity or fake profiles. Whilst it is easy to block others online it is equally simple for them to set up new accounts just as quickly. Setting strict privacy settings removes much of the functionality of this resource, which is largely used to communicate and share messages with people that you don’t know.
A more comprehensive guide to apps, games and social media sites can be found here: