Resources for parents and caregivers of kids aged 13-14

Most teens are using the Internet more and more. It is a big part of their daily lives. This increased use makes them more vulnerable than ever. Learn what to look out for.

How to keep your teen safe

Today’s teenagers are very active online. They are familiar with social media, including creating, commenting on and sharing content, and interacting with people they may not know. Many have their own phone. Most teens are navigating the online world on their own, but it is not without its dangers.

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

What your child needs to know

  • Grooming

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

    • What they are and why they may not be appropriate
    • What to do if they are sent to your child or your child finds 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 control them

What you need to know

  • What grooming is and how to spot it

    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

    • Your child is approached — they may falsely identify themselves to make a connection as a peer, or it can be someone they know
    • 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 saying “your parents are too strict” or “don’t understand you”
    • They sexualize the relationship by sending or asking your child to take and send sexualized 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. gifts, devices, video games or in-game upgrades)
    • They are more secretive than usual when you are around
    • They use sexual language they haven’t used before
    • They are more fragile, moody or troubled than usual (even for a teenager)
  • 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. Older kids may think it is harmless, especially with someone they know or like, but once an image is sent, it is out of their control and it 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, privacy, establishing boundaries, healthy relationships and consent
  • Talk to them about not giving into pressure and breaking off communication if they feel threatened or uncomfortable
  • Tell them it’s always OK to come to you or another safe 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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