Social networks, apps and games

Facebook and Messenger

Facebook is a social network which lets you create a page about yourself. You can add friends, write on people’s pages, join groups, share photos and videos, and play games. Facebook Live lets you broadcast live videos of yourself using the mobile app. Messenger allows you to instant message in group chats or one to one, using text, audio, photos or videos. It also lets you share your live location with friends.


Official age rating


Parent age rating

What do parents say?

Child age rating

What do children say?

At a glance

Kids use this to...





Expert view of the risks...


High Risk

Violence & hatred

High Risk


High Risk

Suicide & self-harm

High Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

Medium Risk

O2 Guru top tip


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

Exploring apps, sites and games together is a great way to involve your child in the decision-making process.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about your concerns. Ask them what they think is appropriate and what worries them.

If you decide it’s not appropriate, then make sure you explain your reasons why (and be prepared for an unhappy child).

You might decide it’s ok for your child to use. If so, make sure you follow the tips below to ensure it’s as safe as possible. And work out a time when you’ll next discuss the app.

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

You might want to start by asking:

  • What kinds of things do you share online?
  • Should we share everything?
  • What shouldn’t we share?

Use examples that are easy for them to understand: “You wouldn’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 emails, names, phone numbers, school names
  • photos of themselves with strangers
  • photos of your body, such as sexual photos or videos
  • gossip

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.

And if they feel like they can’t speak to you, tell them to talk to an adult they trust, like a teacher or Childline.

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

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

You can visit Facebook for specific information on privacy settings and tools.


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.

You might find it useful to visit their Safety Centre which has information on their policies, safety tools and resources.

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.



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



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


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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