According to Project Teen Canada, 54 per cent of teenagers use cell phones daily. For parents, cell phones are an easy and practical way to stay connected to and keep tabs on their kids while giving them independence. But for young people, cell phones are much more than a tool for chatting with mom or dad – they’re an essential part of their social lives.
Social networking is one of the most popular online activities in Canada. In fact, according to the Canada Online! study, 40 per cent of all Canadians use a social networking site. Facebook is the most popular of these sites by a long shot, with over seven million active Canadian members.
A blog is a Web page where someone posts entries or thoughts on a specific topic and invites readers to respond by posting comments of their own. Blogs can be personal – like online diaries – or more formal and professional. Anyone can write a blog and there is no shortage of platforms. In fact, some free sites such as Blogger.com will allow you to create a blog in just a few minutes.
Young Canadians today are growing up in a culture where gambling is legal, easily accessible – especially online – and generally presented as harmless entertainment.
Along with playing video games, downloading music and movies are among the top online activities for Canadian youth. Using file-sharing or peer-to-peer (P2P) programs, as well as “digital locker” services, kids can search for and then download free music, movies, video games or software – which in most cases are copyright protected.
Spam, online scams and frauds, identity theft and issues related to online purchases are a serious issue in the online world. Navigating the Web while avoiding these threats can be a challenging task.
For most youth, the Internet is all about socializing, and while most of these social interactions are positive, increasing numbers of kids are using the technology to intimidate and harass others – a phenomenon known as cyberbullying.
Verbal or emotional abuse is the most prevalent form of bullying online. Social bullying, another pervasive form – particularly with girls – includes social exclusion and spreading gossip and rumours.
It’s important to note that there is no single profile of a child who bullies. While some fit the traditional image of someone who is generally aggressive and has poor impulse control, others may be very sensitive to social nuances and are able to use that understanding against their targets.
Cyberbullying is everyone’s business and the best response is a pro-active or preventative one. From the outset, we can reduce the risks associated with Internet use if we engage in an open discussion with our children about their online activities and set up rules that will grow along with them.