guide Instagram YouTube Snapchat

A guide to Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat

We asked three young people how they use these online platforms, and they've shared their insight on the pros and cons of different social media



By Amelia, 16, Manchester

Instagram is a wonderful place to explore and share pictures with people who share your passions – people you wouldn’t meet in your usual day-to-day life.

I joined Instagram in 2014 to create a fan account for my then-favourite band, Panic! At the Disco, and I met my first serious boyfriend through Instagram. I’d never have met him in real life as he lives in Birmingham. The relationship lasted two years and was strengthened by the bond we formed over Instagram. We created an account to post pictures of us together, for friends and family who supported our relationship.

I currently co-own a fan account with my best friend for the Korean boy band BTS. The amazing thing about Instagram is you get to talk to people on the opposite side of the world who share the same interests as you. In the first few months since we started the account we’ve gained almost 1,300 followers. Also, we’re both trying to learn Korean, and having this account means we can practise the language with other people and learn from them.

I love Instagram because there are so many other worlds out there, and you can discover them all with just one tap of your finger.

What parents need to know

Minimum age: 13

Instagram allows its users to share images with each other. Users can comment on posted photos, and this consists of both positive and negative responses. Shared photos can be seen by anyone, but you can change your child’s privacy settings so that only people they know can see them. However, their bio, profile and profile image will remain public.



By Jaffa, 16, Herefordshire

YouTube’s variety of content means anyone can find something they’re interested in. From beauty gurus like Zoella and gamers like PewDiePie to education channels like CrashCourse and Philosophy Tube, YouTube has a bit of everything. You can also find viral videos (yes, like the cute cats).

I like its community feel – everyone is different, and YouTube embraces that individuality. The short-film maker Bertie Gilbert produces entertaining videos that often have a powerful message to get you thinking. And BuzzFeed uploaded a series of  ‘I’m… but I’m not…’ videos where people break down stereotypes and stigmas – such as, ‘I’m Muslim, but I’m not…’ and ‘I’m bisexual but I’m not…’.

Finally, although I live in a very rural part of England, YouTube and other sites mean I can still be up to date with things in the same way as teenagers living in cities all around the world are.

What parents need to know

Minimum age: 13 with parent’s permission; 18 without

YouTube lets users watch and comment on videos and upload their own. Some of its content is of an adult nature. There is a free YouTube Kids app aimed at under 13s.

CEOP (formerly the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) advise making sure your child knows not to share content with details that may allow someone to trace them, such as school uniform, your house or local area.



By Cameron, 17, Dorset

Snapchat lets you share Snaps – pictures taken on your phone (often selfies) or brief videos. You can edit the image or video and add some text or a filter before sending it. The beauty is that it isn’t permanent: the sender selects how long the image or video will be available for, and after that it’s gone. You add friends, much like Facebook or any other social media platform, and then you can send Snaps back and forth as you please.

People tend to use Snapchats more for conversation than for documenting. If someone wanted to save an image or video of something that happened, it would end up on Facebook or Instagram. But if you want to chat about it with your friends, you’d use Snapchat. It’s more personal than sending a text, and it’s far more fun.

The main point of Snapchat is to be social. Rather than forcing you to sit and hope that your post gets a certain number of ‘likes’, it provokes conversation and interaction – which, in my opinion, is a far healthier way to interact with people.

What parents need to know

Minimum age: 13

Snapchat is a photo messaging app that allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings and send them to a controlled list of people. The user controls how long the Snaps are available for, usually just seconds. Recipients of images can’t download them, but they can take a screen shot of them and send that to other people. Parents should remind children not to share inappropriate images on social media.

Read more on using social media safely.

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