Children Looked After and Social Networking


This procedure applies to Children Looked After

This chapter was added to the manual in April 2012.

1. Social Networking and Children Looked After

Social networking sites are used by most young people and are a normal part of everyday life.

They can be particularly important for young people in care as they can help to keep in touch with family and friends.

Social networking sites can sometimes present issues for some people in care, and young people need to know that they always can turn to us for support.

To ensure young people in care have the same chances to socialise and enjoy their free time as other young people and to keep everyone safe, HCC should work to the following guidelines:

  • Each young person will need an approach to Facebook (or similar) and social networking that is appropriate for them in their circumstances, in line with the individualised approach used in placement agreements;
  • In most cases (but see point above) young people over the age of 13yrs in care should be able to access Facebook (or similar) and social networking sites;
  • When a young person is under 13 years of age and wants to access a social networking site they must have a 'trusted adult' who is joined as a friend and who is therefore able to monitor their activity and ensure safety. They and should be encouraged to use age appropriate web sites like Moshi Monsters.

2. A Trusted Adult

To keep safe, young people aged 13yrs - 16yrs could have a trusted adult as a Facebook (or similar) friend, who they chose themselves and agree with carer.

If this adult is a HCC employee they must follow HCC policies, including ICT policies and social media policies. This Facebook (or similar) account must remain separate from their own personal Facebook (or similar) account*.

If the trusted adult is a Carer or other trusted adult they should keep this contact separate from contacts they have with their own family and friends. i.e. set up a Facebook (or similar) account with a different email specifically for this purpose.

It should be emphasised that support will always be given to a young person who is troubled by anything online, and that they can always turn to a trusted adult

Social Workers, carers and other staff should not access a young person's Facebook (or similar) unless they are the agreed trusted adult, other than in exceptional circumstances, for example, if the child is missing or believed to be at risk.

3. Professionals' Responsibilities

Social Workers, carers and staff should promote eSafety with young people and discuss it from time to time including:

  • Only accept people you know as friends;
  • Keep your profile private;
  • Report bullying/unacceptable behaviour;
  • Remember once online always online.

Carers, Social Workers and other staff will attend training as appropriate and ensure they are up to date with eSafety, including the risks and how to 'Stay Safe' online

If staff, for professional purposes, want to use Facebook (or similar) they should have an account set up using their HCC email, use it only for professional purposes, make the settings 'friends' or 'custom', only be friends with the young person (and not the young person's friends) and ensure that any personal information is not added or made available for the young person to view.

The staff Facebook (or similar) account should be available for the line manager to monitor on request and staff must be aware of the potential issues and ensure that they behave appropriately.