Last Updated on 10th December 2021

How young people tell their ‘story’ through Social Media

From a young age, children become immersed in a world of stories, which aid children’s development as it heightens their imagination and exposes them to new language and emotions. These narratives are then used to shape their sense of reality as they grow and develop. As this happens, the stories themselves often grow and develop in complexity with them.

Stories can enhance interaction, learning and engagement with caregivers and as children get older, the stories they are interested in can change. More and more, smartphones are replacing books and Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook continue to provide the new digital space to capture and tell these stories.

The ‘story’ feature on social media platforms provides an outlet for children and young people to ‘tell their stories’ and update friends about their lives, by posting pictures and videos on their profiles, just like a digital diary. In this way. social media has greatly enhanced the visual and symbolic representations of young lives.

This is a short guide which will introduce you to the world of social media stories. The purpose of this guide is to give parents, carers and safeguarding professionals the tools and knowledge to ensure that children in their care use social media stories in a safe way.

Understanding the Story?

Within social media, a story is generally a picture or video that can be viewed for around 24 hours once posted. The most common platforms for sharing stories are Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. There are no set privacy rules and platforms differ in appearance and use.

Who can see a story?

When a story is posted it means that anyone a young person is friends with on the app can view that photo/video. There is no limit to the amount of images or videos a user can share on their story.

Both Instagram and Snapchat allow you to see who has viewed a story, however Snapchat goes one step further sending a notification to the original poster every time someone screenshots part of their story.

Always remember that another user could screenshot a post without the other person knowing (on Snapchat). This can be done by using another phone and taking a photo/video or by using screen recording software, which Snapchat doesn’t always recognise.

Stopping People From Seeing Your Stories

  • In Snapchat, certain people can be stopped from seeing your story by blocking them. To do this, select settings > who can… view my story > custom > you then choose which of your contacts to block.

  • Similarly, on Instagram go to your profile > settings > privacy > story > hide story from > then choose who you don’t want to see your story.

  • Facebook also allows users to choose who they want to see, or not see their story depending on current privacy settings.

y Features in a Story

Text & Location

Text can also be added, including the ability to handwrite or draw on the image on all three platforms. Instagram and Facebook Stories allow location to be added to the post.

There are features that need to be used cautiously, as strangers could easily identify the poster from their picture and the personal information they’ve shared on their posts.

Snapchat does not give an option for a location to be shared in a story: but, if Snap Maps is enabled on the smartphone, then the location of a user can be seen – unless Ghost Mode is activated.


Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram all offer ‘stickers’ as a way to customise and decorate stories. These are emoji’s that add extra details, such as mood emojis or cartoon images. These stickers can be resized by tapping the sticker with two fingers and pressing down while ‘dragging out’ to make the image bigger.

Instagram Polls

On Instagram stories, users can create a poll by asking viewers to choose between two different options. For example, they might post a picture with the text, ‘what should I eat for dinner tonight?’ The two options being: ‘Pizza’ or ‘Salad’. Those viewing the story can select their answer. The user who posted the poll can then see the results.


Instagram story highlights appear on a user’s profile. These are stories the user has previously posted which the user has saved as a ‘highlight’. The user can then select as many as they like to appear at the top of their profile.


Filters change the colour of the picture and many users of these platforms say it helps to enhance the photo. Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram all give the option of using filters. Filters on some platforms also use Augmented Reality to overlay features on the face.


Introduced in December 2017, Instagram now lets you archive stories, This means that they are saved to an ‘archive’ folder as a way to keep them after the 24-hour time limit has expired.

Before being posted on Snapchat, snaps can be saved to memories which is similar to how Instagram keeps an archive of any snaps you might want to save before posting.

Snapchat and Facebook give you the option to save stories to your camera roll before you share them.


Instagram and Facebook also allow live streaming to take place and post this via a story. For more information on Livestreaming, join our webinar on Monday 29th June at 11.30am.

It is more important now than ever to discuss stories with children and young people in your care. If they use Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, then there is a good chance that they will already be creating and viewing stories every day.

Take some time to talk to them, find out what stories they like and ensure that they know peoples stories are far from an accurate depiction of their lives. Talking to them about stories will give them the opportunity to voice any concerns they might have about social media like online bullying or harmful content they might have seen.

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