Social networks, apps and games
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Facebook

Facebook is a social media site which lets you connect with others and share things like comments, photos and videos through your own profile page. You can add friends, write on people’s pages and posts, join groups and play games. You can also live broadcast a video to your Facebook contacts.

13+

Official age rating

Kids use this to...

Play

Create

Learn

Connect

Our safety ratings

Overall safety rating:

Our overall rating for Facebook

Average

Facebook doesn’t have any parental controls but does have some safety features that could help keep your child safe if they have an account.

There’s still a chance they could be contacted by someone they don’t know on the app so you should make sure to talk to your child about what to do if this happens.

Safety features

Facebook has a Parents Portal with information on the safety features that can help keep kids safe on the platform. They also have a Youth Portal, an area designed to help young people get to know the social media site.

If you set up an account as a 13-18 year old then most of your privacy settings are set to ‘friends’ rather public. This means that only people on your friends lists can see your posts. You can only change to ‘friends of friends’ and under 18s aren’t able to have ‘public’ profiles.

You need to be 13+ to set up a Facebook account however it would be easy for a child to sign up using a different date of birth.

Privacy & location

Accounts set up by under 18s are automatically set to private when you register so that only people you’re friends with can see your profile.

Location sharing is switched off on under 18 accounts by default.

Facebook’s tag review tool lets you review photos you’ve been tagged in before they appear on your profile. We would recommend hiding tagged photos so only you can see what you’ve been tagged in.

Reporting & blocking

Facebook has lots of information on reporting and blocking different pieces of content and accounts. The reporting and blocking functions are easy to find but some of the topics listed on the report page might be upsetting for children.

Content

We didn’t come across any inappropriate content while exploring the app. However, your child might still come across something upsetting that has been shared by another user or on a group or page they follow.

O2 Guru top tip

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On Facebook privacy

Explore Facebook's privacy settings with your child. Use the ‘Friends only’ option, so only people they know can see what they're posting.

Top tips for staying safe on Facebook

Sitting down with your child and exploring their favourite app or game is a great way for you to learn more about what they like to do online.

You can ask them why they like to use an app or play certain games, as well as who they’re talking to and what sorts of things they’re sharing.

You can also read our Net Aware reviews for tips on how to keep kids safe on popular apps, sites and games.

Help your child think about what they share online and who sees it. Compare it to what they would be happy to share offline.

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You shouldn't give your number to somebody you don't know on the street. Is somebody online you don't know any different?”

Listen to their answers. And be positive and encouraging.

Remind them that they shouldn’t share private things, such as:

  • personal information, like names, emails, phone numbers, location and school names
  • other people's personal information
  • links to join private group chats
  • photos of themselves
  • photos of their body, such as sexual photos or videos.

It’s important to check the privacy settings on your child’s Facebook account to make sure what they’re posting and sharing is kept private or only with friends.

We recommend they only sharing things with friends and always keeping their location private.

You can visit Facebook for specific information on privacy settings and tools, including a Privacy Check Up which walks you through all the different ways you can make an account more private.

 

If an account is set to ‘friends only’ it means only your Facebook friends can see what you post.

Your child’s friends will most likely be made up of friends, family and people they know from other offline activities. But sometimes kids might accept friend requests from friends of friends or other people they don’t know.

Set some rules with your child about who can be friends with them on Facebook and show them how to decline follow requests from people they don’t know. You could also show them how to remove friends if they’ve already accepted a friend request.

Your child might see or receive upsetting or negative things from other users on Facebook and Messenger. If this happens, they might want to report or block them.

Facebook has specific guidance on reporting, as well as how to unfriend or block someone.

On Messenger you can find information on how to report conversations and how to block someone.

And remember to let your child know that they can always talk to you about worrying things they see online.

Facebook has a dedicated portal for parents with tips and advice on using the social network.

Take the time to explore this area and think about which safety features are right for your child. And make sure you revisit this information regularly to see if anything has changed.

Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to play, create, learn and connect. But remind them they can talk to you if anything upsets or worries them.

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.

It’s important to remind your child that they can talk you, another adult they trust, like a teacher, or Childline about anything they see online.

What children and parents are saying Facebook & Messenger.

We've spoken to over 2,000 parents and kids to find out what they think about.

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Kids

What do children and young people dislike about Facebook and Messenger?

• Receiving friend requests or messages from people they don’t know
• Seeing inappropriate or upsetting posts or pages that are shared
• The amount of adverts and spam posts that you can’t really control

You can come across upsetting videos and pictures that should not be seen by young people. Many young people use a fake date of birth yet they are still able to use the app.

Girl, 16

What do children and young people like about Facebook and Messenger?

• You can use it to communicate with friends and family around the world
• It helps you to keep up to date with what’s going on with friends and in the news
• It’s entertaining as there are lots of funny videos and memes that are shared

It’s quite diverse with the range of content it provides such as videos and images. It is also personal. I also receive constant notifications from Facebook asking me if I would like to review my privacy settings and friends.

Boy, 17

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Parents

We asked parents about the following areas of Facebook and Messenger:

Signing up

It is very easy to do, maybe too easy for children that are quite young.

Mother of a 12 year old girl

Easy to set up an alias so danger that people who are on there aren't who they say they are or someone could set up an account in your name.

Mother of 11 and 13 year olds

Reporting

Most parents thought it was easy to find ways to report unsuitable content or behaviour, and block people from contacting you.

I have found it easy to report inappropriate content using the drop down box option, but I've never had any feedback on things that I have reported. I am sometimes shocked to see traumatic images with no warning.

Mother of 10 and 15 year olds

Privacy settings

Overall, parents found it easy to change the settings so that your profile, account and location are private.

When accessing after registration the privacy and location settings are quite hard to find.

Mum of 6 and 8 year olds

 Safety and support

The advice is there but it’s not very young child friendly.

Dad of 11 and 14 year olds

There is nothing obvious on Facebook that leads you to use safety and privacy settings. You have to know about them and then go hunt for the settings.

Mum of 17 year old

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