Social media is the collective term for social networking websites, video sharing platforms, online blogs and community forums that enable users to communicate with others, share photos and videos, play games together, and keep informed about news, events and campaigns.
There are a wide range of potential risks that could be experienced on social media, alongside the many benefits, for example:
- Adverts and spam
- Cyberbullying and harassment
- Grooming, online sexual abuse and exploitation
- Oversharing personal or private information
- Potential impact on emotional-wellbeing, self-esteem and/or mental health
- Receiving ‘friend’ requests or messages from unknown people
- Seeing or sharing inappropriate or upsetting posts, pictures or videos
- Unreliable information, fake news and hoaxes.
Social media is primarily funded by advertising, where they sell targeted advertising space to other companies based on user’s data; they are restricted from doing this with the data of children (under 13) by the Children’s Privacy Protection Act. For this reason, most social media sites have a minimum age requirement of 13 years.
Social media also provides new and exciting opportunities for educational settings to engage, communicate and collaborate with learners, parents/carers and their wider communities.