Cyber Security: Special Issues for Teens

Teens use the Internet as much, and in similar ways, as adults. But they also often engage in risky behaviour such as downloading illegal copies of movies and music. Popular social networking sites, like Facebook, can also expose teens to a variety of security risks.

  • Identity spoofing is a fairly common problem on social networks. [1] Teens need to know how to make strong passwords and have to be taught not to share their passwords with others.
  • Social networks, and other online environments that encourage users to share information about themselves, can expose teens to identity theft. Teach teens not to give out their full name and full birth date (just the day and month are fine) and to never give out their Social Insurance Number online.
  • Aside from the ethical concerns about downloading pirated music and videos, this also greatly increases the risk of downloading viruses or other malware. Talk to teens about the risks associated with downloading software and visiting sketchy websites, and make sure any computers or mobile devices they use are equipped with good security software. Make sure that teens are familiar with legitimate ways to stream or download music and videos online.
  • Teach teens to always check out strange offers or requests on a good anti-hoax site such as
  • The teenage years are frequently a time when youth start to buy things for themselves, and they want to do a lot of this shopping online. This opens them to the risk of auction fraud, data theft and overspending. A prepaid credit card or an “allowance” (such as the one offered by iTunes) is a good way to help teens learn to handle online purchases – and keep a lid on their spending. Teach teens to “let the buyer beware” and make sure they know how to judge vendor reliability on sites such as eBay and Amazon. Finally, encourage them to use their browser’s Private Browsing mode whenever they make online purchases and to not let any website store their credit card information.



[1] Cross, Emma Jane, et al. Virtual Violence II: Progress and Challenges in the Fight Against Cyberbullying., 2012.