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Online and Media Safety
As children and youth spend more time online, it is important that parents talk about online safety. Sometimes it is easy to feel scared by the number of things our children can be exposed to online. Still, most of us are online every day, and as parents, we have the responsibility to provide them with the tools to be as safe as possible!
Tips for Keeping Your Child/Youth Safe Online
- Set limits and stick to them. Decide how much screen time is okay, what technology is allowed and at what age.
- Create a Family Media Agreement together. The agreement is a collection of rules and responsibilities for household members to follow to receive media privileges. Allow your kids to have input into what this agreement could look like. It can help create a sense of accountability for everyone.
- Use filters and controls. For younger children, ensure you use filters to block explicit materials from appearing in online search engines.
- Have conversations about online relationships and cyberbullying. Let your child know they can come to talk to you if they feel unsafe or feel like someone they know may be in danger.
- Talk to your child about privacy. Remind them not to share personal information or images of themselves with people they do not know. Remind them never to pressure anyone to send them images.
- Create an environment that encourages openness. Let your child know that if they receive or someone shows them an image of someone or explicit materials, they can come and talk to you about it without getting in trouble or reprimanded.
Teach your child that everything stays on the internet. Remind them that anyone can screenshot a conversation or an image. They should engage in respectful, healthy relationships online as they do in person.
- Use media and technology as teaching moments. If your child is watching a video, use it as an opportunity to ask them what they are seeing and learning from it. For example: did that relationship look consensual? What kind of bodies were represented in that video, and are they reflective of bodies we see in society? Etc. It’s an opportunity to talk about your family values and how media is not often a representation of the real world.
Provide opportunities for your child to become good digital citizens. Digital citizenship refers to the responsible use of technology by anyone who uses computers, the internet, and digital devices to engage with society on any level.
Create Your Own Family Media Agreement
Work together as a family using these categories and questions to guide your discussion.
What media (technology, shows, apps, etc.) is allowed? Why? When? Where? How much screen time?
When, where, and what types of media are not allowed? How can your child ask for help if they see something that is not age-appropriate?
What are they allowed to share online? What privacy settings need to be in place on accounts?
What does respectful use of media and online language look and sound like? What is disrespectful use or cyberbullying?
This is the goal. What does perfect media consumption and use look like to you and your family? What media do you consume or use together (co-view)?
We know children are being exposed to pornography or seeking it out because they are curious. This can often happen at a very young age. As parents, it is important to talk about pornography with your child, so they know what to do if they are shown pornography or if they find it themselves. The media literacy tools you provide your children will also help them if they are exposed to pornography.
Talk about your family rules. Let your children know that you do not want them to access pornographic websites.
- Teach your child that pornography does not depict healthy relationships, consent, or, sometimes, even safer sex practices.
If you find that your child is viewing or has viewed pornography- remain calm. Use the opportunity to talk with them about what they viewed, why, and how they felt about what they saw.
- If they are seeking out pornography because they are curious about bodies, sex, or relationships, provide them with other, more appropriate sources of information (videos, books, websites, etc.)
- You want to encourage them to come to you if they have questions or are concerned about something they have seen.
Get support! If you feel like you need help to talk to your child about pornography, or if you believe your child is abusing pornography, please reach out. Our counsellors can help!
- MediaSmarts focuses on providing educational resources to help raise a media-savvy generation. Some of their resources include
- Common Sense Media provides ratings to help parents assess which movies, TV shows, games, and apps are appropriate for their child.