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