Facebook is a popular social networking app which lets you connect with others by sharing photos, status updates, comments and videos. The app allows users to reconnect with old friends, keep updated with current ones and make new connections. Facebook is currently estimated to have over 2.93 billion active users worldwide. Whilst Facebook was originally established to keep friends in contact, many businesses now have their own Facebook pages where they can promote their brand, and the establishment of ‘Facebook Marketplace’ has meant users can also buy and sell goods through the platform.

Facebook now sits alongside Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger under the parent company Meta.  Meta replaces Facebook as the leading company/brand in this group, and the Meta branding is likely to become increasingly visible on all of these apps.  

The minimum age for Facebook users is 13, however it does not have any rigorous age verification methods. 

For account holders under 16, the default setting is ‘Private’. All other accounts default to a public setting, where content can be viewed by any other users on the platform. Setting an account to private is recommended. 

Find out more about age ratings in our ‘A parent and carer’s guide to age ratings of apps and games’.

Facebook allows users to curate an online presence for themselves and share it with their social network of friends also on the platform. Their updates, from their images to their statuses and likes, can then be communicated directly with everyone they know.  The ‘Like’ feature on the platform can be especially rewarding for children and young people as it is seen to signify approval from their friends or peers.

The Facebook app is easy to use to communicate and chat with friends either one-to-one or in group chats and with various media (for example, GIFs, photos, videos). It is also a useful place to follow brands or organisations and get updates with new information, releases or announcements.   Although many young people see Facebook as more of an adult domain which their parents and carers are using - it does still have a lot of younger users.

  • Facebook friends are the contacts you have accepted to see your posts on your profile. These can be family, friends and people you know in real life but can also include those you’ve only met online.

  • A friend request is how a user makes a connection with another user. By accepting a friend request, you are allowing that user to view the content you post, and the information included in your profile, unless you restrict your content to particular groups only.

  • This function suggests people you may know, and therefore may want to be ‘Facebook friends’ with.

  • A user’s ‘Facebook profile’ is their page where they can upload photos, videos, personal information and status updates to share with their friends.

  • This function, also referred to as ‘What’s on your mind?’ allows users to share with their friends how they are feeling or what they are up to. This can be done in a range of ways, including text, photo, live-stream or location updates.

  • Facebook allows users to ‘Check in’ online by tagging themselves in specific locations.

  • When you ‘Tag’ someone on Facebook, you create a link to their profile. For example, you can tag someone in a photo, or in a status update to say who you’re with.

  • Clicking the ‘Like’ button (thumbs up icon) is an easy way of telling people you enjoy their content without having to leave a comment.

  • This is your history on Facebook. It keeps all of your activity, updates, photos and public messages all in one place.

  • Individual users can come together to form a Facebook group. Groups can be public, private or secret.

  • This is the live-streaming feature attached to Facebook. Users can make and share videos in real time. Account privacy settings will determine who can view a user’s live content.

  • Users can create adverts to buy and sell items across the platform. Facebook also uses geo-location data from your phone to find adverts that have been posted in your local area.

  • This is often where companies and businesses promote a range of things such as the work they have been doing, products they sell and job vacancies.

  • This allows users to video call using Facebook or Messenger by inviting multiple others to join your video call, even if they don’t have a Facebook account.

  • This is a stand-alone chatting app which is part of the Facebook group. Facebook and Messenger accounts are linked. For more information on the Messenger app, refer to the Messenger app guide.

  • These are short videos containing music, audio and text overlays. They are shared directly to your ‘Friends’ in their ‘News feed’ or to other users in a dedicated ‘Reels’ section of the app. ‘Reels’ are set to public for users with accounts aged over 18.

Some users of Facebook use it to document many aspects of their lives, often sharing personal information through their profile, photos, check ins and status updates. Help your child to think about what they share online and encourage them to think through whether they would share this information offline too. The notion of Facebook friends may lull some users into a false sense of security around the information they share. Explain the risks of what could happen if the information they have shared falls into the wrong hands.

The Facebook app allows users to share personal information with each other in a range of ways. Users can share photos, status updates, live locations and even tag their friends and family in their photos. Whilst this is a positive feature for those wanting to maintain connections with friends and family who may live far away, it can result in some users over-sharing their personal information and documenting all aspects of their lives online. Encourage your child to think about whether they would share their information with everyone they know in the offline world and whether it’s necessary to do so on Facebook.

Recent Facebook updates have meant that users can choose their audience for each new post they share. You can choose from ‘Public’, ‘Friends’, ‘Friends except’, ‘Specific friends’ and ‘Only me’. Encourage your child to think carefully about who they share their content with, making sure they are sharing with the right people audience.

The Facebook platform is vast, so it is possible that your child may come into contact with users they do not know, if the appropriate privacy settings have not been put in place. Reinforce the understanding that Facebook friends should be people they know in the offline world and accepting a friend request from a stranger to boost their friendship count can be risky. As with other social networks, it is possible for users to set up fake accounts, pretending to be someone else. Encourage your child to question whether they really know the person who has sent a friend request before accepting. If your child has a ‘Public’ account setting, speak to them about the risks of connecting with strangers and explain the importance of not sharing personal or private information on their feed or within chats.

Some Facebook users harass others by targeting the content they share on their Facebook page. The comment function on Facebook can make users susceptible to harassment and abuse. It is helpful to talk to your child about how they should behave towards others online (and remind them of the impact that unkind or hurtful comments or posts can have on others) as well as how to report and block other users who behave inappropriately.  Facebook has community standards that it expects users to adhere to.

If your child has their own Facebook account, it is important to speak to them about how they are using the app and what they are sharing.  They also need to be aware of the risks of livestreaming using the ‘Facebook live’ function.  Livestreaming can feel exciting and fun and in the moment for children and young people which can lead them to do things that they may later regret.   Have a conversation with them to help them understand that they need to be careful with any content that they share or broadcast.  Ensure your child knows it can be difficult to keep ownership of any content once it has been shared online, as content can easily be copied or recorded and reposted without their knowledge and can then become difficult to remove from the internet.

Facebook users should also know that their name, age, gender, profile picture and cover photo are all classed as ‘Public information’ and can be viewed by everyone on the platform. Encourage younger users to think carefully about the pictures they choose as their profile or cover photo, keeping in mind that it can be viewed by a high volume of people.

Facebook is a free app, which means it generates revenue from advertising. The company makes money by selling ad space in and next to a user’s feed. Meta has updated its targeted advertising policy on Facebook, meaning that adverts can only be targeted to users under 18 based on their age and location and not on their gender, interests or activity. Users can also manage their advert topic control within ‘Ad preferences’ in the settings menu.

Talk to your child about how advertising works, including targeted advertising and work through the advertising settings within the ‘Settings and privacy’ menu to help manage the adverts shown.

  • Facebook has a range of settings to manage privacy. ‘Privacy checkup’ is a useful feature where you can manage the privacy and security settings. As all accounts default to public, begin by changing who can view content. Meta have also launched a ‘Privacy Centre’ where you can find out more about your privacy settings on the different Meta platforms.

    To manage privacy:

    • Go to the menu and select ‘Settings and privacy’, select ‘Settings’and scroll down to ‘Privacy checkup’.
    • Select the ‘Who can see what you share’ option which allows you to select your preferences for:
      • Profile information
      • Posts and stories
      • Blocking
    • Work through each option by using the drop-down menu and selecting your ‘Audience’ from one of the following options:
      • Public
      • Friends
      • Only me
      • Close friends
    • Select ‘Next’ to move through to the next set of options.
  • The ‘Privacy checkup’ feature on Facebook giver users lots of control over managing interactions.

    To manage interactions:

    • Go to the menu and select ‘Settings and privacy’ and scroll down ‘Settings’ then to ‘Privacy checkup’.
    • Select the ‘How people can find you on Facebook’ option which allows you to select your preferences for:
      • Friend requests
      • Phone number and email address
      • Search engines
    • Work through each option by using the drop-down menu and selecting your ‘Audience’ from one of the following options:
      • Everyone
      • Friends of friends
    • Select ‘Next’ to move through to the next set of options.

    To disable location:

    • Go to the menu and select ‘Settings and privacy’and scroll down ‘Settings’ to ‘Privacy checkup’.
    • Select the ‘Your data settings on Facebook’ option and work your way through the menu until your reach ‘Location’.
    • Follow the instructions to disable your location on your device.

    To manage ‘Reels’ audience:

    • Go to the menu and select ‘Settings and privacy’ and scroll down to ‘Settings’.
    • Choose ‘Profile settings’ and select ‘Privacy’.
    • Scroll to ‘Who can see your future reels?’ and select ‘Friends’.
    • Note: it is recommended that you disable the additional option of allowing others to share your reels to their stories.
  • Users can report and block other users who may be bothering them or behaving inappropriately on the platform.

    To report a user:

    • Go to the profile of the account.
    • Select the three dots below the cover photo and choose ‘Report profile’.
    • Follow the instructions to submit.

    To report a comment, photo or video:

    • Find the comment, photo or video you wish to report and hold your finger or mouse down on it to bring up a menu.
    • Select ‘Find support or report’ and follow the instructions to submit.

    To block a user:

    • Go to the profile of the account you wish to block.
    • Select the three dots below the cover photo and choose ‘Block’.
    • Fill in the form and submit.
  • Facebook has a number of tools available to help you and your child understand and take control of their screen time. There are also options to manage your advertisement settings.

    To set up time management tools:

    • Go to the menu and scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’ and select ‘Settings’.
    • Scroll down to the ‘Your time on Facebook’ option within the ‘Preferences’ menu.
    • Select the ‘Manage you time’ option and work through the menu to set the ‘Quiet mode’ and ‘Daily time’ reminder

    To manage your ad preferences:

    • Go to the menu and scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’ and select ‘Settings’.
    • Choose the ‘Privacy checkup’ option and select ‘Your ad preferences on Facebook’.
    • Work through the menu and toggle off the information you do not want shared with advertisers.

    To manage notifications:

    • Go to the menu and scroll down to ‘Settings and privacy’ and select ‘Settings’.
    • Scroll down to ‘Notifications’ in the ‘Preferences’ menu.
    • Work through the listed options to decide which notifications to toggle off.

We recommend having a conversation with your child about their digital footprint and the importance of being a good digital citizen.  Encourage them to think about how they use the platform, and to be aware that once they share content online on apps like Facebook, that content is no longer under their control.

Meta has created a dedicated Teen privacy centre to help teen users manage their privacy on all Meta platforms.

Facebook has a dedicated portal for parents with tips and advice on using their social network.

Facebook has the option to ‘Unfollow’ and ‘Unfriend’ other users on the platform by hovering over either the ‘Follow’ or ‘Friend’ button and selecting the relevant option.