The experiences of people with learning disabilities on social networking sites



Accessible summary

  • Lots of people use the Internet to make friends and talk to friends.
  • We behave in certain ways because of how people talk to us and treat us.
  • Some people use Facebook on the Internet to stay in touch with their friends and make new friends. This can be a very good experience.
  • Some other people have had problems when using social networking sites like Facebook.
  • Some people have been bullied online and some have had money taken off them.
  • We spoke to three people who have had good and bad things happen on Facebook.
  • We have suggested some ideas on how to help people with these problems.


Social identity has traditionally been established through face-to-face interactions. However, in recent times, social networking sites have provided an additional medium through which social identities can be developed and explored. Social networking has become increasingly popular over the past decade, attracting millions of active users worldwide. These sites offer an opportunity to maintain friendships, create new friendships and even date. The following article highlights the positive and negative experiences of three people with learning disabilities using social networking sites. The negative experiences reported by our service users highlighted areas of concern with regard to their safety. As a result, a therapeutic group was formed to address these online experiences and provide practical and emotional support. At the end of the group, service users reported that they were more confident about discussing and problem solving issues around online use.