Use social networks safely

People from all over the world meet in social networks. The many opportunities to network fascinate adults, young people and children.  They exchange information about hobbies, common interests and much more. But what exactly is it about social media that fascinates young people in particular and prompts them to disclose information about themselves, some of it very personal?

Social media meet the interests of young people and help them cope with developmental tasks. They are eager to present themselves. After all, interests and the social environment represent the personality, and that in turn provides recognition by others. In the mostly adult-free spaces, young people can also try things out without having to fear parental judgment or sanctions.

In a very short time and without much effort, a young person can try out identity models in social networks and immediately receive feedback from the Internet community. The platforms are thus used in terms of identity management processes. For most young people, it is important to be authentic and at the same time "come across" as cool, sexy, serious or funny as possible.

Social media is multi-functional and appeals to almost every mood due to the different ways it can be used. If you're in a "no mood" mood, you can simply click through profiles or groups, use applications, and much more. If you're in the mood for action, you can get active, i.e. communicate and arrange meetings. Ultimately, as in real life, there is also a "peer pressure" that young people like to bow to in order to compete in their social reference group. If almost all of their friends are registered on a social network, the young person naturally has to try it out as well. Otherwise, he or she runs the risk of no longer being "up to date.

Almost all social networks offer a wide range of communication options, e.g. chats, messages or groups. Young people strengthen their identity here and in return receive self-affirmation from their peers. It is very easy to meet others with the same interests and exchange ideas. This means that people are no longer dependent on local conditions in their place of residence or immediate surroundings.

Tips for parents

Often, disputes among friends or a problematic class situation are behind bullying attacks. Talk to your child and, if necessary, inform the teacher in order to find a solution together.

In general, children and young people should break off contact immediately if the chat partners' questions become unpleasant or they feel pressured. Advise your child at an early stage never to meet an online acquaintance alone.

Everyone has the "right to their own image". Images that are posted without the consent of the person depicted can be reported or deleted. In the worst case, criminal action can also be taken against them.

Using reporting buttons, which are now available on every network, you can report violations such as the creation of fake profiles to the site operator. The scope for action then ranges from warnings to deletion of the perpetrators' profiles to criminal prosecution.

In iOS, it is possible to disable the in-app purchases feature. On Android devices, you can set a pin that is requested before an in-app purchase.