Online safety for children and youth

What are the risks of interacting online?

  • Cyberbullying and harassment.
  • Physical harm: the Internet, including email, social media sites, chat areas, bulletin boards and messaging can be used to gain a person’s confidence, particularly that of a child or youth, and then arrange a face-to-face meeting. This contact may result in physical, sexual and emotional harm.
  • Exposure to inappropriate material, such as materials that are sexual, hateful or violent in nature or encourage activities that are dangerous or illegal.
  • Identity theft and fraud.

Tips for parents and guardians to reduce online risks to children and youth:

  • Learn about the online world and be aware of the websites your child or youth is visiting. Talk about online safety with your child or youth.
  • Ensure your child or youth does not give out personal information online. 
  • If your child or youth is chatting online be sure to review the messages that are being sent and received.
  • Consider only allowing online use of computers, tablets and laptops to take place in common spaces in your home. This allows for better online monitoring.
  • Check-in to see who your child or youth are connecting with through social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and others. 
  • Find out about filtering software that is available to block out certain sites, material and apps.  If you are concerned about your child or youth visiting a certain site or chat room, a block can be placed to prevent your them from logging on to that site. However, don't feel completely safe with a block. New websites and apps pop up every day and many pornographic or hate-filled sites have simple names that don't give away their content, and some websites are even named to attract children and young adults.

General tips for reducing online risks

  • Use a code name and keep personal information, such as your address, telephone number, place of work, or the name or location of your school, private
  • Always talk to your parents before ever agreeing to meet someone you met online, they may not be who they say they are
  • If a message or chat room becomes uncomfortable, do not respond and log out of that site
  • Report harassment or inappropriate messages to your online server, who have their own set of ethical standards and welcome information from users