Child Safety Resources

Help children stay safe online

Protect Kids Online provides a collection of resources, tips and information designed to help parents talk to their kids about online safety.

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Talking to children, preteens and teens about sharing explicit photos and videos

Have regular conversations about the risks of sharing explicit photos and videos.

Speaking regularly with young people about the possible risks of sharing nude or sexually explicit photos and videos (called sexting) might help prevent problems, such as an image being shared without permission. It’s best to address this issue calmly and revisit the topic regularly.

If your child or teen tells you that they have received or sent a nude or sexually explicit photo or video, react calmly and focus on what support and help they need from you. Recognize the courage it has taken for your child to come to you, and offer assurance that everything will be okay. Then, work with your child to minimize any potential harm.

Note: Your child’s device blurs photos or videos that may contain nudity in select Apple apps. Discuss this feature with them and what they should do if they see a blurred photo or video.

    • Explain that photos and videos showing private body parts (areas covered by underwear or a swimsuit) should not be shared.
    • Encourage your child to come to you if they receive any photo or video that is blurred or that makes them feel uncomfortable.
    • If your child comes to you with an inappropriate photo or video or you see it on their device, react calmly and discuss why you feel the photo or video may be inappropriate. Thank your child for bringing this to your attention or discussing it honestly with you. Then work together to delete the photo or video.
    • While curiosity about bodies can be normal, consider consulting a mental health professional if your child exhibits repeated or excessive interest in nudity and sexuality.
    • It is not uncommon for teens to share nudes with romantic partners or potential romantic partners. A 2018 analysis by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 14.8 percent of teens had sent nude or intimate photos, while about 27 percent had received them.
    • Teens need to be aware that there are criminals who pose as teens offering to exchange nude or sexually explicit photos or videos. The criminals then use these photos or videos for sexual extortion (sextortion) by threatening to post or distribute them unless they are given money or sexual favours.
    • If you become aware of your teen either receiving or sending nude photos or videos, be calm and try to determine the circumstances. If the photo or video was unsolicited, it can be upsetting for the teen and could be the result of bullying or harassment.
    • There are cases in which nude photos or videos are shared because of pressure. There are also cases where a recipient has shared or distributed photos or videos without the consent of the person who originally sent them. If the sharing is nonconsensual or an adult is involved, consider contacting law enforcement.
    • Gently talk with your teen about risks of sending or receiving nude photos or videos, such as the recipient someday deliberately or accidentally sharing them, which could result in embarrassment, bullying or other harm.
    • It’s important to reassure young people that, as embarrassing as it might be if the photos or videos are distributed, it’s not the end of the world. There are people, including you, who can help them, and it will be okay.

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Tips to help your children stay safe online

Keeping kids’ and teens’ online activities safe and positive.

To stay safe online:

  • You know your child better than anyone else. What works for some children doesn’t work for others, depending on age, maturity level and other factors.
  • Express interest in the apps your child uses and the sites they visit. Get to know your child’s favourite apps and games so you can understand the platform, its privacy settings and why your child likes it.
  • Communication is the key. Make it a conversation, not a lecture, and reassure your child that they can come to you if they experience any problems. Let them know that you won’t overreact and that protecting them is more important than punishing them. 
  • Talk to your child about security and privacy and the importance of using strong and unique passwords and other authentication tools, such as fingerprint or facial recognition.
  • Make sure young people understand the risks, such as distributing nude or intimate photos or videos, bullying, misinformation and harm to their reputation. The conversation can be short, but you should revisit it periodically. Reassure them that if something bad happens, you will be there to help.
  • Consider using tools like Screen Time to monitor your child’s device use, but make it a learning experience and revisit any controls as your child matures. This will help them develop the ability to use technology responsibly now and in the future.

Sexual grooming

Identifying grooming and talking to children and teens about it.

Grooming is a tactic abusers use to build relationships with young people so they can manipulate, exploit and hurt them. Abusers may befriend a child to gradually gain their trust with the intention of abusing them.

People who groom children are often patient, persistent and good at manipulation. Sometimes people who groom young people online also know them in person.

Protect young people by having age-appropriate conversations with them about grooming. Assure your child that if someone is grooming them, it’s not their fault.

Open communication is vital. Protecting young people from grooming is an ongoing process to help them develop their warning systems and feel comfortable alerting you if something goes wrong.

  • Although these signs are not necessarily linked to grooming, parents may want to observe if their child:

    • Is secretive about what they’re doing online.
    • Quickly turns off, hides or closes a device when someone walks into the room.
    • Has unexplained gifts, money, drugs, alcohol or other things of value.
    • Is online late at night or at odd hours.
    • Seems upset, depressed, angry or afraid.

    Check in with your child to see if anyone online:

    • Offers them gifts.
    • Talks about romance, love or sex.
    • Sends or requests nude or sexually explicit photos or videos.
    • Inappropriately engages them in highly personal conversations.
    • Asks them to keep secrets.
    • Attempts to isolate them from family or friends.
    • Asks them to continue a conversation on a different platform.
  • Regardless of their age, the best way to know if a child is being groomed online and to prevent potential harm is to talk with them.

    • Check in regularly with your child or teen about their online experiences.
    • Explain that there are people who use the internet to harm young people. These people may pretend to be a friend and ask them to do things that are not safe.
    • Promise not to get angry if they tell you about something bad or if they’ve made a mistake. Groomers rely on fear of punishment to prevent young people from reporting abuse.
    • Agree on rules and boundaries together, including when it is and isn’t okay to engage online with people they don’t know. Consider using tools like Screen Time to help supervise your child’s use of technology.
    • Make sure your child knows how to report people and block or mute accounts in the apps they use.
    • Talk about online security and privacy practices and settings.
    • Make sure your child understands what personal information should and should not be shared online and why.
    • Help your child distinguish between positive interactions and ones that might be problematic or dangerous. Let them know that if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable for any reason, they can come to you for help.

    Talking with a young child about grooming:

    • Use correct names for body parts, and explain which body parts are private and why.
    • Discourage any communication with adults they don’t know.
    • Talk about the difference between okay secrets, like not telling someone about a surprise party, and bad secrets, like not telling a trusted adult when they feel scared or threatened.

    Talking with an older child or a preteen about grooming:

    • Practise having them tell you something difficult. Praise them for telling you and let them know you will help them.
    • Recognize that all children are not equally vulnerable.

    Talking with a teen about grooming:

    • Have frank discussions about grooming in ways that do not instill fear.
    • Remind them that not everyone is who they say they are or has their best interest in mind.
    • Recognize that teens may have an interest in exploring sexuality, but let them know they can come to you if they encounter anything threatening.
    • Remind them that they have the power to ignore, report and block anyone who makes them uncomfortable.
    • Explain that anything they share online can be copied and shared with others, either accidentally or on purpose.

    Remember: You know your child best. How you address tough topics should depend on your child’s age, maturity level and other factors, including their vulnerability and emotional state.

    They may be reluctant to talk about online relationships and may not be aware that they are being groomed. Assure them that if someone is grooming them, it’s not their fault.

Dealing with cyberbullying

How to identify it and help your child or teen.

Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs on digital devices like phones, computers and tablets. It can occur via text, messaging apps, chat, email, online games, social media, livestreaming, photos and videos. Bullying is typically defined as aggressive and repeated verbal or physical abuse where there is an imbalance of power, but any form of harassment, including insults, threats, impersonation, spreading rumors and exclusion, can have a similarly negative impact. Imagery containing nudity can be used to bully. Cyberbullying often happens alongside physical bullying in school or the community. According to a 2022 Pew Research Center study, “Nearly half of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online.”

It isn’t always obvious that a child is being cyberbullied, and they may not tell you. Although not necessarily signs of cyberbullying, pay close attention if your child has difficulty sleeping; doesn’t want to go to school; exhibits a decreased sense of self-worth; or demonstrates changes in online habits, such as constantly checking social media accounts or avoiding their devices when you are present.

Any child can be cyberbullied, but some children are more vulnerable than others, including members of marginalized groups such as racial or religious minorities, kids with disabilities, LGBTQ+ youth, or anyone who looks or acts different.

Frequent, brief conversations with your child about their online experiences can help foster a relationship where they are more likely to come to you if they experience cyberbullying. It’s also important for your child to understand that if it happens to them, it’s not their fault, and there are people who can help them get through it.

    • Be calm, don’t overreact and don’t blame them. It’s usually not helpful to take away their devices.
    • Start by listening. Find out what happened and how it made your child feel. Be supportive.
    • If someone sends an inappropriate image or content that makes your child uncomfortable, you can advise your child not to respond.
    • Encourage your child to use tools like blocking or muting the account and reporting the content to the platform where the incident occurred.
    • Discuss strategies to end the cyberbullying, and think about how you can help your child heal and increase resilience.
    • Include your child in discussions and plans for solutions. Cyberbullying often results in a loss of control over a social situation, and involving your child helps to overcome that.
    • When in doubt, get help from a school counsellor, teacher or other expert.
    • Sometimes parents can make things worse by responding publicly. Responses should be well thought out.
    • If the person who is cyberbullying your child is also a child, work with parents and school authorities to address the child’s behaviour.
  • Take it seriously. Cyberbullying may indicate that a child is in distress and could lead to even more serious problems. Before establishing a consequence for the behaviour, find out why the child is being mean or acting aggressively.

    Underlying causes vary but may include:

    • Trying to fit in with a peer group that is engaging in cyberbullying.
    • Experiencing anxiety, anger, depression, lack of control, frustration or stress.
    • Being cyberbullied themselves.
    • Feeling a need to be in control.
    • Looking for attention from others.
    • Not fully understanding the negative impact of cyberbullying behaviour.

    If your child is cyberbullying others, parents and other trusted adults can:

    • Find out what is going on with the child to try to determine why the cyberbullying is taking place. Consider the child’s emotional state, peer group and other factors.
    • Talk with the child and explain how cyberbullying can negatively affect others and themselves and why it is not appropriate. Let them know about the importance of kindness and empathy and how they impact others.
    • Consider speaking with a school counsellor or other professional for advice and strategies.
    • Let them know that there are consequences for cyberbullying.
    • Brainstorm ways the child can make amends with the person they hurt.

Get emotional and mental health support

Do you need to speak with a counselor about whatever is worrying you? Text CONNECT to 686868 or visit Kids Help Phone.

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If you want to report a potential online crime, contact your local police department and ask to speak with an officer in child exploitation.

Go to to tell us about your concern. If you would prefer to make a report over the phone, call’s toll-free line (1-866-658-9022).

Visit Protect Kids Online to learn more