A Guide for Trusted Adults is based on YWCA’s consultation with Canadian girls and young women about their concerns and the issues they face online and on social media platforms and the ways they want the adults in their lives to support them.

On the Loose: A Guide to Online Life for Post-Secondary Students supports young adults who are experiencing both new freedoms and challenges in their post- secondary life.

Online Relationships: Respect and Consent

In this lesson, students use mind maps to explore concepts of “respect” and “consent” in an online context. They consider a wide range of scenarios that shed light on different aspects of consent relating to digital media and draw on those to create a detailed definition. Finally, students create an “explainer” video in which they illustrate one of the aspects of consent.


Relationships and Sexuality in the Media

In this lesson, students learn to question media representations of gender, relationships and sexuality. After a brief “myth busting” quiz about relationships in the media and a reminder of the constructed nature of media products, the teacher leads the class in an analysis of the messages about gender, sex and relationships communicated by beer and alcohol ads. Students analyze the messages communicated by their favourite media types and then contrast it with their own experience.


A recent phenomenon relating to young people and technology is “sexting”, where sexual, nude and semi-nude images are exchanged electronically. This section looks at how often young people of different ages are sending and sharing sexts; the reasons why they do it; how boys and girls’ sexting habits are different; and ways that parents, teachers and other adults can respond.

Parents, schools and law enforcement agencies are grappling with how best to respond to this issue. In the United States, sexting amongst youth has resulted in teens facing child pornography charges.

MediaSmarts’ YCWW research found that sexting has other aspects that are gendered in interesting ways. While boys were more likely than girls to say that they had received a sext from the sender (32 percent compared to 17 percent of girls) and were slightly more likely to have forwarded a sext sent directly to them (16 percent compared to 12 percent of girls), they were more likely to have had a sext they sent forwarded (26 percent compared to 20 percent of girls).

Aside from being part of a cluster of risky behaviours, however, there is little evidence that sending sexts is by itself a risky act: for example, one study done with American university students found that many reported positive experiences.[1]