Social Media Help

Age Limits

Many parents are unaware of how their children use social networking sites and often don’t realise that sites such as Facebook have a minimum age limit of 13.

There are a number of different social network sites that are popular with young people of different ages.

Facebook (minimum age requirement - 13)

Probably the largest social networking site with approximately 750 million active users. After registering users create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information, and other personal information. This profile can be shared with everyone or just the user's contacts or 'friends'. You are encouraged to post status updates which are then posted on your wall where anyone who has been given permission can see and comment.

Facebook also includes chat, email and social games which encourage users to interact with others to complete tasks or goals. The site is powered by advertising which is targeted based on the information users give.

Tumblr (minimum age requirement - 13)

This is a blogging platform were users can upload posts, text, images, videos and other media from the internet. Tumblr does not filter any content so users can come across unsuitable and pornographic content. Users also have to be careful about the amount of personal information, e.g. photos, that they make available on the site. Like other sites, there are privacy settings and parents should ensure that their children set this to the highest level.

Snapchat (minimum age requirement - 13)

This is a free photo and video sharing app. Photos and videos can be very easily shared with friends. Video and photos or "Snaps" as they are called, disappear in just a few seconds. This may lead some young people to think that they can share photos they wouldn't normally share because they will be gone quickly. Photos can however be permanently saved as screenshots.

Formspring (minimum age requirement - 13)

Formspring is a popular site amongst many teenagers where they can share information and post questions to other users. When young people first started using the site concerns grew about how easy it was to post anonymous questions to bully or harass other users. While this is still a problem, the site administrators have put a number of systems in place to block and report violations. The site can also be integrated into profiles on other social networking sites such as Facebook.

Twitter (minimum age requirement - 13)

Once registered, users can send messages known as tweets of 140 characters of less to their friends known on the site as 'followers'. All tweets are public by default and it is possible to search tweets based on keywords. It is also possible to send DMs (direct messages) to other users, these messages are private. Many celebrities have Twitter accounts where they share their thoughts or actions with their followers and sometimes interact and answer questions.

Club Penguin (no age restrictions)

Designed for children in the 6-14 age range, Club Penguin is a games-based social networking site. Users create a penguin avatar and play games in a winter-set world. It is possible to communicate with other users but the site is moderated and designed with child safety in mind. The site contains no advertising but encourages users to sign up and pay a monthly membership fee to access better items and resources.

Moshi Monsters (no age restrictions)

In a similar vein to Club Penguin, users of Moshi Monsters adopt a pet monster and care for it by playing games which earn reward points. These reward points can then be spent of food and other items. Users can add friends and communicate via a pinboard system where they leave messages for each other.


How do I report a young person who has a profile on Facebook and is under the age of 13?

Under the terms and conditions of Facebook, all users who set up a profile must be aged 13 or more.

Thumb down Report an underage child

How do I block someone from contacting me on Facebook?

One of the easiest ways to stop someone from sending abusive comments is to block them from being able to send you messages. In order to do this, you will need either their name or email address.

Thumb down Blocking People

How do I report abuse on Facebook?

Thumb down Report Abuse

Thumb down Report Abuse (If you don't have a Facebook account)

How do I report a fake Facebook account?

A danger with sites like Facebook is that users can get personal information by friending people while posing as somebody else. If a user has set up a fake account in the name of an individual, then this can be reported to Facebook (whether you have an account or not).

Thumb down Fake Account

How do I check the status of a report that I have submitted?

When someone has submitted a report on Facebook, then can check the status of their report through the ‘Support Dashboard’.

Thumb down Check status of report

How do I check my Facebook privacy settings?

Click here for a presentation on how to check Facebook privacy settings


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If users need to report child sexual abuse images anywhere on the internet, notify the Internet Watch Foundation


Alternatively, if a user is being groomed online, or believes that a young person is being groomed, they should contact the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)


Learn about SMART rules for keeping children safe online: Kidsmart website

S - Safe. Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information when you’re chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number and password.

M - Meeting. Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents’ or carers’ permission and even then only when they can be present. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time.

A - Accepting. Accepting emails, IM messages, or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or nasty messages!

R - Reliable. Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only chat to your real world friends and family.

T - Tell. Tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online.


When children are the target of bullying via mobile phones or the internet, they can feel alone and very misunderstood. They may not be able to identify that what is happening to them is a form of bullying, or be confident that the adults around them will understand it that way either. Previously safe and enjoyable environments and activities can become threatening and a source of anxiety.

As mobile phone and internet use become increasingly common, so has the misuse of this technology to bully. Current research in this area indicates that cyberbullying is a feature of many young people’s lives. One study carried out for the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that 22% of young people reported being the target of cyberbullying.

  1. Be aware, your child may as likely cyberbully as be a target of cyberbullying. Be alert to your child seeming upset after using the internet or their mobile phone. This might involve subtle comments or changes in relationships with friends. They might be unwilling to talk or be secretive about their online activities and mobile phone use.
  2. Talk with your children and understand the ways in which they are using the internet and their mobile phone. See the seven key messages for children (below) to get you started.
  3. Use the tools on the service and turn on in-built internet safety features.
  4. Remind your child not to retaliate.
  5. Keep the evidence of offending emails, text messages or online conversations.
  6. Report cyberbullying:
    • Contact your child’s school if it involves another pupil, so that they can take appropriate action.
    • Contact the service provider.
    • If the cyberbullying is serious and a potential criminal offence has been committed, you should consider contacting the police.

Key messages for children

  1. Always respect others – be careful what you say online and what images you send.
  2. Think before you send – whatever you send can be made public very quickly and could stay online forever.
  3. Treat your password like your toothbrush – keep it to yourself. Only give your mobile number or personal website address to trusted friends.
  4. Block the bully – learn how to block or report someone who is behaving badly.
  5. Don’t retaliate or reply!
  6. Save the evidence – learn how to keep records of offending messages, pictures or online conversations.
  7. Make sure you tell:
    • an adult you trust, or call a helpline like ChildLine on 0800 1111 in confidence;
    • the provider of the service; check the service provider’s website to see where to report incidents;
    • your school – your teacher or the learning mentor can help you.

Finally, don’t just stand there – if you see cyberbullying going on, support the victim and report the bullying. How would you feel if no one stood up for you?


A Childnet leaflet about young people and the internet
The ThinkUKnow website from CEOP is all about keeping kids safe online
Kidsmart website
Jigsaw - a video from CEOP aimed at 8-11 year olds about posting information online
Anti-Bullying Alliance