Social networking refers to the use of an online service, platform or website that enables users to build social networks among people who share interests, activities, backgrounds or real-life connections.
The benefits of social networking include being able to stay connected with friends and family. This is particularly beneficial for socially or physically isolated individuals, such as those with a physical disability or those from rural or remote areas. For many children and young people (as well as some adults), social networking engagement is no different to their offline interactions with people.
When online, users can identify who they share information with and what level of information and interaction they have with others. However, they can't control what their friends might do with their information, which may be shared more broadly than anticipated. For example, friends may copy and share photos from each other's social networking sites without permission.
For children and young people, the risks in using social networking sites include: