What do I need to know about Facebook & Messenger?

We've spoken to parents to find out what they think about Facebook & Messenger. We've also asked children and young people what they think. Here's what they said:

Children’s views

What do children and young people dislike about it?

19% of the children and young people who reviewed Facebook and Messenger thought it was unsafe. The main things they told us they don’t like about Facebook and Messenger were:

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

What do children and young people like about it?

The main things that children and young people told us they like about Facebook and Messenger were:

  • 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.

Is content on Facebook & Messenger suitable for children and young people?

We asked parents and young people about the types of inappropriate content they’ve seen on Facebook & Messenger. The level of risk is based on the % of respondents who reported seeing these types of content. The ratings are: Low Risk (less than 5% of respondents); Medium Risk (between 5 and 25%); and High Risk (over 25%, or more than one in four).


High Risk

Violence & hatred

High Risk


High Risk

Suicide & self-harm

High Risk

Drink, drugs & crime

High Risk

What are people saying about
Facebook & Messenger?

Girl, 15

“I can contact my friends and family who live on the other side of the world really easily. Facebook is a wonderful app with amazing possibilities. The settings in this app prevent others from seeing someone’s information and page as long as the user sets it up this way.”

Girl, 16

“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.”

Boy, 17

“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.”


“I have seen posts and pictures indicating that particular people or groups of people should be harmed. I have also occasionally seen more explicit pictures including nakedness.” - Mother of 9 to 17 yr olds


“It’s fairly easy to set a child’s privacy settings but whatever the settings there is always a risk of finding inappropriate content by accident.” - Father of a 10 yr old girl


“Ensure your child knows how to set their privacy settings correctly and explain how they can block someone. Find out how to report posts to Facebook and CEOP [Child Exploitation and Online Protection] and show your children. Try to keep an open dialogue with them." - Mother of 14 yr old girl

Facebook & Messenger

"Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Facebook Messenger is a fast, free and reliable way to stay in touch. It's just like texting, but you don't have to pay for every message (it works with your data plan)."

O2 Guru’s Top Tip for Facebook & Messenger

O2 Guru Rosa says:

"Give your Facebook account a privacy check by tapping Privacy Shortcuts, then Privacy Check-up in the help and settings menu."

Our O2 NSPCC Online Safety Helpline can help you to set up parental controls, adjust privacy settings or get advice on social networks. You can call us free on 0808 800 5002.

For face to face advice and support, you can also book a free in-store appointment with an O2 Guru here (even if you’re not with O2). 


What's the right age for Facebook & Messenger?


Facebook & Messenger says

This is from Facebook and Messenger's own guidelines and is accurate as of March 2018.


Our panel of parents say

Based on our independent panel of 2,049 parents, surveyed through YouGov in January 2018.


Children say

Based on 2,059 responses from children and young people in November and December 2017.


Net Aware visitors say

Based on 1906 votes from visitors to the Net Aware site – you can vote too.

What do you think?

Adjust the slider and tell us what you think is the right age to join Facebook and Messenger:


Submit my vote

Thank you!

We'll add your vote to the average rating.

Start a conversation with your child
about Facebook & Messenger

Having open, regular conversations with your child will enable you to really understand and explore the online world together, helping you to keep them safe online. Our tips and advice can help you start having these conversations.

I know the internet is a great place – I’m happy for you to use it. I just want you to be OK.

In the News