Young Canadians Speak Out: A Qualitative Research Project on Privacy and Consent

Young Canadians Speak Out: A Qualitative Research Project on Privacy and Consent


31 Mar 2020

MediaSmarts conducted focus groups with young Canadians ages 13 to 16 in Ottawa, giving them the chance to consider, discuss and design ways of obtaining consent online that are clear and meaningful to them.  As part of the focus groups, youth were asked to share their thoughts on and experiences with current online consent processes. They were then asked to come up with hand-drawn ‘paper prototypes’ of their ideal privacy policies. The findings, highlighted in the report Young Canadians Speak Out: A Qualitative Research Project on Privacy and Consent, offered creative new ideas on how platforms can improve online consent processes – not just for young people, but for everyone – so Canadians can better understand what they’re agreeing to when it comes to their privacy. For more information please see the key points and takeaways available here.

Youth want clear and simple online privacy policies to better understand online consent

Informed Youth Promote Clarity for All

It’s something we’ve all done before: scrolled past a wall of text to click “I Agree” with no idea what we’ve agreed to. Then, when we’re using the platform, messages like “We’ve made some changes to our Terms and Conditions” simply remind us that we probably didn’t read them in the first place. Our world is becoming more and more influenced by the data that’s being collected about us. For young people in particular, this can lead to serious and unexpected consequences that could affect their entire lives.

Lynn JataniaIt’s looking more and more like social distancing could go on for several months. Our school board has announced that computer-based learning from home will be introduced shortly; other provinces have announced school closures running through to the end of the year and we expect ours to follow suit soon.

Photo of Lynn JataniaWe’re living in a strange and uncertain time. Already, as parents, we’re feeling our way to the right set of rules and guidelines for screens and social media. But now that we’re facing an extended time of quarantine and social distancing, the rules are bending and changing every day.

Thanks to the internet and social media like Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok, it’s easier than ever to  share your views and encourage others to join you in making change. And, due to research conducted as part of the Digital Ecosystem Research Challenge (DERC), we know a lot about how some Canadians are using digital media to get involved in politics. This guide will help show you the ways you can use social networks to make your voice heard and make a difference.

By Samantha McAleese, research associate at MediaSmarts and
David Fowler, vice-president, marketing and communications at CIRA.

Almost half of youth who have taken and sent a sext say that the recipient then forwarded that image to other people without their consent. This culture of sharing among youth is a real concern and can have devastating consequences for the person in the picture and the person who forwards it.

February 11, 2020 - A series of videos and resources from MediaSmarts and TELUS Wise are launching for Safer Internet Day with the message that it’s never okay to share someone’s sext without their consent.

What should I do if someone sends me a sext?

So, you’ve received a sext that you didn’t ask for. Now what?

Delete it right away

If someone sends you a sext that you didn’t ask for, delete it. You can also ask the person not to send more if you feel comfortable doing so.

Block the person

On social: If they keep sending you sexts (or other unwanted messages) that you don’t want, you can block them. Most social networks have Block and Mute functions.

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