Are they really ‘strangers?’

Advice for young people

Learn about talking to new people on social media and some dangers of doing so.

Display video transcript
Title - Talking to new people on social media.

Making friends online is important, but it's also good to think long and hard before accepting friend
requests from people who you haven't met outside of the online world.

Here are some tips on how to manage your friends online to have a safer experience.

Choose to be friends with people you've actually met in the real world - like at
a youth club at school, a sports club or at the park, then it's easier to know if they are genuine friends

Because it is easy for anyone to pretend they are someone they are not, It's best to keep your personal information private, like your address, your exact location, where you go to school or when you're doing cool stuff and other private details about your life.

Friendships change over time, so check your friends list regularly to make sure that you are OK with who's looking at what you share online.

You can use ‘Facebook Privacy Checkup’ in the account settings to review who can
see what you share and keep your accounts secure.

What are the signs that someone is not who they say they are?

If they are doing any of these things, they may not be your friend, even if they say they are:

Asking you to keep your relationship a secret.

Making you do things that make you feel uncomfortable or worried.

Saying hurtful things about you and others.

Or sending you scary messages.

If you're worried that someone is not who they say they are - block them online, tell your parents or a trusted adult so they can keep you safe.

You can also call ChildLine, for free, on 0800 1111 to talk to a trained counsellor.

Issues with other people:

Are they really ‘strangers’?

What you will learn

Choosing who I chat with

What to think about

When you are chatting to new people on social media you cannot actually see who they are or how they react when you say things.

It is a sad fact that not everyone is kind or behaves well towards other people

Because we are humans we love to connect with other people, to chat, laugh and share. But it is best to do this with people you know well.

Does having a huge list of friends on social media show I am popular?

Not really!
This is because people can quickly see that you have simply added all sorts of people as friends whether you know them or not.

But I love getting lots of ‘likes’ so I need a lot of followers

Yes, it does feel good when we get likes, but they have no meaning if they are not from real friends – like people you know and care about.

I want lots of people to see my photos

We all want to be admired – but we need to look for this feeling of being admired by people close to us that we know offline and trust.

This is because people we do not really know can try and make us do things we would not normally do – just so we can get to feel they admire us.

Make a group chat with people who care about you like family and close friends.

But I feel they are not strangers!

Many young people say this because they have been chatting to someone online for a while and they feel they know this person. But if you think about it – anyone could pretend to be someone else online.

So how can I grow my friends list safely?

  • Follow other young people you meet at school, youth clubs, sports or out-of-school clubs
  • Add a sister or brother, cousins and other family members
  • Connect with people with similar interests to you – such as joining a group
  • Invite people from your contact list (that you already know)
  • Leave nice and helpful comments/emojis on other people’s posts you have an interest in