Resources for parents and caregivers of kids aged 10-12

Most tweens are active on the Internet these days. But with increased activity comes greater risk. Learn how to keep them safe.

Keep their online activities safe

Your kids are probably fairly comfortable online. They interact with others through games or video streaming platforms, use computers or tablets at school daily, and may have their own connected devices at home. There is an upside to all this technology, but it is not without its dangers.

There have always been people who prey on children— the difference is that the Internet allows them do it anonymously and from a distance. It’s a growing problem across Canada. Parents need to be aware of how to protect children from online child sexual exploitation and teach them to recognize potential risks and stay safe online.

What children need to know

  • Grooming

    • What it is and how it happens online
    • How they can reduce the risk
  • Sexual images and videos

    • That your child might come across them and it might make them uncomfortable
    • What to do if they are sent images and videos or if they find them
  • Sexting and sextortion

    • What they are and the unexpected impacts they can have
    • What to do if they’ve shared intimate images or someone is trying to blackmail them

What you need to know

  • What is grooming?

    Grooming is when someone builds trust with a child, and sometimes the adults around them, to gain access to and control the child.

  • Online tactics a groomer might use

    • They falsely identify themselves as a child at a nearby school, on a friend’s sports team, or another connection to your child’s peers
    • They talk about the child’s friends or interests, give gifts and compliments
    • They make promises of a better life, a loving relationship or future gifts, money, drugs or alcohol
    • They cause division by saying “your parents are too strict” or “don’t understand you”
    • They sexualize the relationship by sending or asking for intimate images or videos
    • They may threaten or pressure your child to do what they ask
    • They may ask to meet your child in person
  • Signs your child may be in the process of being groomed

    • They talk about a new friend you haven’t heard of
    • They are very focused on spending more time online
    • They have new things you didn’t get them (e.g. toys, devices, video games, new apps or video game upgrades)
    • They are more secretive than usual when you are around
    • They use sexual language they haven’t before
    • They are more fragile or moody than usual (even for a tween)
  • What is sexting?

    Sexting is when your child creates, sends or shares sexual messages, images or videos with friends, people they know or even strangers online. They may not know it can be dangerous, especially with someone they know and like, but they should know that, in the wrong hands, these images can end up hurting them or someone else.

  • What is sextortion?

    Sextortion (sex extortion) is a type of blackmail where someone threatens to send a sexual image or video of your child to friends, family or other people if they don’t pay them, provide more sexual content or do what they ask.

What you can do

The most important thing is to be aware and to talk openly and regularly with your child:

  • Let them know you are available to talk any time
  • Understand they may be hesitant to share with you
  • Use real life examples they can relate to that aren’t about them
  • Talk about online safety and that some people may misuse information to embarrass or cause them harm
  • Talk to them about breaking off communication if they feel threatened or uncomfortable
  • Tell them it’s always OK to come to you or another trusted adult, even if they think they’ve made a mistake
  • Tell them about resources like Cybertip.ca and NeedHelpNow.ca in case they are worried and do not want to come to you
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