What is social media and how can I use it safely?
Social media is a collective term for websites and apps that enable users to create and share content whilst also networking and staying in touch.
Social media platforms are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, follow public figures and organisations, and also meet people with similar interests or hobbies.
You can access social media sites through the Internet on your device or, all social media platforms have an app that you can download on your smartphone or tablet from the App or Play Stores.
Tips for staying safe on social media
- Think carefully about who you choose to connect with on social media. Do you know them in real life?
- Check the privacy settings on your profile. All platforms will be different in how you do this but you can usually access your privacy settings through the settings or account settings. You can set your profile to private (so people need to be a friend or follow you to access your profile).
- Be careful about how much information you share online. For example, if you share that you're on holiday, people will know that your house is empty putting it at potential risk of burglaries if the wrong people had that information.
- Be cautious if people you've just met online ask you to reveal personal information or who want to meet you very quickly. They may not be who they say they are. Read more from Age UK about this type of scam.
- You can 'Unfriend' or 'Unfollow' and even 'Block' people on social media meaning that that person isn't able to contact you or see your profile.
- Make sure you report any abuse to the social network.
- Don't post personal information like your address, email address, phone number etc.
- Pick a username that doesn't include any personal information including your name and date of birth like JimChapman1946
- As with all online accounts, you should use a strong password that is different from the passwords you use for other accounts. We have some tips on setting passwords on our Protecting Your Digital Devices page.
- Look out for misinformation. False claims or fake stories can spread easily online. If you're ever unsure of anything, do not click on it and don't give any personal information away.
More support to help you
- Age UK has some advice on using social media with in-depth instructions for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- Social media: How to use it safely GOV.UK guidance
Page last updated: September 2023.