Where, when and how young people connect
Advice for Parents & Carers
Get insight on the different ways children can connect and share with others online.
To help you feel more prepared to support your child on their digital journey, it’s important to know the places and the people your child interacts with online.
The term social media tends to make us immediately think about Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but children and young people use a variety of different platforms to connect and share online.
Although there is no data that tells us the most popular apps or platforms children with SEND use, we know that they are likely to do the same as other children to fit in and be where everyone else is. There are a number of different types of services:
These allow you to connect individually or with a group via text, calls, or video – the most popular amongst children are Snapchat, Facetime, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and House Party.
Social media apps and platforms allow you to generate your own content, share with others, interact, and communicate – the most popular amongst children are Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter.
Gaming platforms allow users to game and communicate online – most popular are PlayStation Network and Xbox Live but children and young people can also communicate within certain games, without the need for a console or a subscription, with Fortnite and Roblox being the most commonly played amongst children.
Less popular apps that children may also be able to access and use:
Anonymous platforms – there are a number of apps where users connect online anonymously, however, these are often associated with more negative or risky behaviour and can pose a greater risk to young people.
Chat rooms – online platforms that allow you to communicate with multiple groups of people in real-time and orientated around a wide range of different subjects. Anonymity is a key feature of users of chatrooms.
The minimum age requirement for these platforms does vary, however, most are 13.
The notable exceptions are WhatsApp which is 16, Fortnite which is 12 and Roblox which is 7.
For children that have learning difficulties, it’s important to recognise that their chronological age may not be aligned with their emotional understanding and cognitive ability. However, with the right setup and your support, there is no reason why children with vulnerabilities cannot enjoy the many benefits connecting online has to offer.
Understanding the role of social media for young people with additional learning needsWhat you will learnHow connecting online can be more challenging for children with SEND, and have a greater impact on their wellbeing10 minute read