Your Guide to Social Media Stories

Young people nowadays are telling their 'story' through social media. From a young age children become immersed in a world of stories. These stories aid children’s development as it heightening their imagination and exposing them to new language and emotions.

Stories also provide the means to enhance interaction and engagement with caregivers. As children get older, the stories they are interested in can change. Smartphones replace books and Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook provide the new digital pages for their stories.

The ‘Story’ feature on these social media giants provide a platform for children and young people to tell ‘their’ stories and update friends about their lives by posting pictures and videos on their profiles, as a digital diary.

Parents, carers and professionals need to be alive to this new environment and understand how these ‘stories’ work.

What is a story?

A story, in social media terms, is generally a picture or video that lasts for 24 hours once it is first posted. Young people today have become increasingly reliant on the connection between social media and socialising; keeping up-to-date with their friends.

The most common platforms for stories to be shared can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. There are no set rules and platforms differ in appearance and use.

 Instagram is often used to post higher quality stories, perhaps documenting a trip, day out or spending time with friends and family.

 Snapchat is well known for its ‘filters’ (read on) and throwaway funny pictures that young people may send to their friends for a laugh, perhaps from a party or a night out.

 Facebook is a relatively new player still finding its feet in the competitive world of ‘stories’ but being one of the biggest players in the social media market there will certainly be a high level of use.

Who Views a Story?

When a story is posted it means that anyone you are connect with on the app can view that photo/video. There is no limit to the amount you can post on your story.

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

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

Want to know how to block on Snapchat? Check out our h2b Safety Centre.

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

Facebook also allows the user to choose who they would like to see their story depending on current privacy settings.

Key Features in a Story

Text & Location

 Text can also be added, including the facility to hand write or draw on all three platforms.

Instagram and Facebook Stories allow location to be added to the post.

This is a feature which needs 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 location to be shared in a story: however, if Snap Maps is enabled then the location of a user can be seen.

Watch this video on how to activate 'Ghost Mode' so other users can't see your location.


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 emoji’s or cartoon images; these stickers can be resized by tapping the sticker with two fingers, and pressing down whilst ‘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?’ and two options below; ‘Chinese’ ‘Salad’. Those viewing the story can select their answer. The user who posted the poll can then see the results and the breakdown of who chose what option.


Instagram story highlights appear on a user’s profile. These are stories the user has previously posted which the user has selected to be 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.


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 similarly to 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.


So there you have it, a brief run down of the features of social media stories.

Stories have become popular with young people, as it’s a way to show others what they are doing, express their emotions, individuality, show off and sometimes seek attention.

It is important to educate young people that living life through a lens often glamorises reality – people only post what they want others to see and young people often get caught up in other people’s stories. Real life is often played out like reality TV and sometimes, depending on what is shown, can make or break friendships.

Engage with the young people in your care and ask them what part stories play in their lives, do they use them, do they watch them, how does it impact them?

We ARE NOT suggesting you use them with children but why don’t you download these apps and try them out with a small group of friends?