Millions of people use social media - Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, etc - but quite often having an account can become a competition to see who can get the most friends & followers.

Young people might take risks because they want to be the most popular, putting them at risk from strangers who might bully or trick them.

Here are some tips to help keep social media safe:

  • Remember, most social media sites recommend that you are at least 13 years old to have an account. Always make sure your parents give permission and help you set up your account safely.
  • Never leave your account as public, which means that anyone could look you up to see your profile, your pictures and what you've been up to. Maybe they send you pictures or messages that might not be nice. Make sure your account is private, and ask parents to help with this if you're not sure.
  • Think about who might be sending you all those friend requests. How many are from random people that you don't actually know in real life? You may have pretended to be old enough to have a social media account - how many of your online friends are lying about their age? People using the internet can lie about who they are and pretend to be someone they are not. Only add people that you know and trust in real life.
  • Think about the friend requests that you send. Even if it's a friend of a friend, do you really know them in real life? Can you really trust them? If it's someone famous, are you sure this isn't a fake account? If you're not sure, check with a trusted adult before sending your request.
  • Sometimes your online friends might want to meet up with you in real life - perhaps you think of them as your best friend because you've been chatting to them for a long time & you seem to get on so well. It is never safe to meet up with someone you have only ever spoken to online - it could be very dangerous if they turn out to be not what you're expecting. Always tell an adult if your online friends want to meet you.
  • Check the lists of friends that you've already added onto your online accounts, and make sure they are all people you know & trust in real life. If not, block them or delete them from your friends list. Parents and adults can help if you're unsure.
  • Turn off location services on apps and social media, so that your online followers don't get notified every time you post an update online. You could be telling them exactly where you are very time you post!
Stock image of phone with tiktok app open