At Actua, we are proponents of youth building strong digital literacy skills – skills that are necessary for them to navigate their current world safely, but also essential to prepare them to thrive in the future of work. A critical part of engaging youth in technology is their safety. Parents and teachers have the responsibility to equip and empower youth with the skills and knowledge they need to be good digital citizens and to stay safe. This can sometimes feel like a daunting task, so here are some helpful ways to get started:
The most important way to keep youth safe online, from the time they first start using a device, is to have open, ongoing conversations with them about the time they spend online. Youth need to feel they can come to their parents at the very first signs of any trouble or concerns online. They need to know that their parents will listen and not overreact. We also encourage parents not to rush to judgement if things do go off the rails – this is a learning opportunity for you and for the kids. Reassure them you won’t automatically take away their device access and reward them for confiding in you – trust builds trust.
Ask them questions, similar to how you ask them about their day of who they played with, who they talked to and did anything to make them feel weird or uncomfortable.
Just like you have rules for the house – it is a good idea to set rules for online environments as well. It is especially important because you can’t monitor your kids online the same way you can monitor them in the backyard or in the park. Rules vary by age, but these should apply to youth using any Internet enabled game, app or social media platform. Some great resources to refer to are Media Smarts, Google’s Be Internet Awesome, and Binary Tattoo’s Family Digital Device Contract.
General rules we recommend:
Good digital citizenship means contributing to online spaces in a positive way and understanding that your actions online have consequences to yourself and to others. With the rise of online bullying and the effects on mental health, being a good digital citizen is extremely important.
The best way to combat negative things online, like cyberbullying, is to have youth empowered and encouraged to contribute positively to online environments, being kind, and being vigilant. We recommend setting the same standards of behavior and expectations you would have for youth online as you would offline. Encourage them to report and call out bullying when they see it, and to only post content they would be comfortable with anyone seeing – from a friend, to their parents, to their teacher.
For more helpful advice, visit the following:
Actua’s Engage. Empower. Connect. (E2C) project, supported by Women and Gender Equality Canada, empowers youth to critically assess online interaction and risks in ways that reduce online violence and promote positive digital and community citizenship.
Through experiential learning and programming, youth in the E2C project:
Engage: Leverage tools to build cyber safety
Empower: Practice skills and transform knowledge into action and creation
Connect: Foster a cybersmart mindset that builds on positive communities and healthy relationships, both online and offline
The E2C project includes a curriculum of youth activities, a curated library of online resources (see below), and an educator handbook developed in consultation with cybersecurity professionals, law enforcement leaders, educators, and other experts in the field coming in 2021.
Click below to consult Actua’s Cyber Smart framework !
The project will be delivered from 2019-2022. For more information, email email@example.com or see #ActuaCyberSmart on social media.
Cyberbullying and sextortion info/resources from the BC provincial government. Contains links to other related sites, info for youth and parents, and connections to classroom learning.
Resources for parents and teachers - includes workshops as well as reference materials, blogs and more on cyber safety and privacy topics. Includes free resource downloads https://www.binarytattoo.com/materials/
Cybersecurity education classroom activities created by Bits n Bytes Cyber Security. This is a resource of activity guides, links, and presentations.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection offers resources and information to keep families, schools, child-serving organizations, and, most importantly, children safe. Includes resources such as videos by child protection experts and research reports on many E2C topics.
Digital citizenship resources and support - includes free lessons for K-12, professional development materials, and more. Common Sense Education is an American-based organization building on Education research from Harvard, among others. The site also has material for parents and other advocates for digital citizenship.
The U.S. Military's Department of Defence (Cyber Initiatives) has put together a series of interactive games: This is more than just a game, it’s a test of your cyber skills. Defeat every stage and you’ll be worthy of the Ultimate Challenge. Hungry for more? Discover the roles that make up the nation’s elite military cyber warfare teams.
Catalyst Cyber Camp is delivered by Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst, Ryerson University’s national centre for cybersecurity innovation and collaboration. This online camp program is currently closed but stay tuned to check out future opportunities through this website link.
These resources are developed by scholastic to teach students how to hack-proof their life while learning key STEM and ELA skills (grades 6-8). It shares a printable and downloadable magazines and lesson plans.
This resource is Canada's primary national tip line for reporting the online sexual exploitation of children, it also features resources and background information about protecting children online.
ICTC has collected several resources from interactive online games, articles, and several full free courses.
The Justice Education Society of BC has created a website that teaches youth about being Cybersafe. This website includes; curated resources of organizations, online interactives, and resources all supporting education and awareness for cyber safety. Additionally this website features an online course that youth can take to become "Cyber Safe certified".
Each year, the Texas A&M Division of Information Technology creates a campus-wide IT security game for National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Each game is designed to be fun and engaging, while educating students, faculty and staff about how to be safe online.
On her teaching sessions website Julie Millan, a TDSB teacher shares her program for teaching students Digital Citizenship. This website features lesson plans, resources and references for educators to use. These are divided by age/grade grouping to tackle curriculum-aligned activities.
Digitally Lit is a project of the Brookfield Institute in partnership with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club of Canada and public libraries in five cities across Ontario to learn about digital citizenship and coding. The curriculum covers a progression of learning activities appropriate for jr/sr high students.
This game was designed to test your application hacking skills. You will be presented with vulnerable pieces of code and your mission if you choose to accept it is to find which vulnerability exists in that code as quickly as possible.
Online hub for cyber safety from the Government of Canada. Includes articles, videos, and other online learning covering a broad range of topics connected to digital citizenship and cyber safety, for children and teens as well as adults.
Be Internet Awesome is an interactive world for students to navigate where they learn about issues like data privacy, security, online bullying, and staying safe online. Once they navigate through all the phases of the game, students earn a digital "Internet Awesome" certificate. The interactive takes approximately 1-1.5 hours to work through completely.
IAPP has some fun cybersafety, hacking and data themed stickers available for download and personal use.
Series of four videos covering ISTE standards for Digital Citizen: Digital Footprint, Online Behaviour, Intellectual Property, and Digital Privacy. Each video is short (< 2 min) and explains what is meant by the concept to apply to students.
Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. Kids Help Phone offers professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French. They have several resources focused on cyber safety and healthy relationships on and offline.
"‘Build and Talk’ activities give you the tools to have a relaxed but useful conversation with your kids about life online as you tackle some fun and simple builds together.
Three different online builds tackle different cyber safety topics - includes online bullying, screen time, privacy, phishing/scams. There are downloadable packs that contain prompts for building with LEGO, videos, and reading material."
Resources for youth, parents, and teachers that tackle topics including digital and media literacy, intellectual property and privacy, ethics and more. This is a national (Canada) initiative to increase media literacy across the country.
Research and resources dealing with online bullying, safety and digital citizenship. Background information supports families with youth of all ages - includes videos, articles, and more multimedia.
Need Help Now is an organization commited to helping youth stop the spread of sexual pictures or videos. Need Help Now and provides support to help immediately remove photos from the web, can connect youth to legal action next steps, and provide emotional support resources and connections.
NOVA has teamed up with cybersecurity experts to create the Cybersecurity Lab, a game in which players will discover how they can keep their digital lives safe and develop an understanding of cyber threats and defenses. Players will advance by using computer coding, logical reasoning, critical thinking, and vulnerability detection to solve various problems.
Privacy Canada: Online Safety 101 has a mission to support Canadians in protecting their identities and information online. A main feature of this site is information about VPN. There is also a Safety Guide containing info for youth for online safety, links to popular apps and websites, Child-Friendly Computing, Child Internet Browsing and more.
Operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, ProtectKidsOnline.ca is a Bilingual website for parents/guardians sharing background information on wide range of online safety and child protection topics. A helpful feature of this site includes age breakdowns of child online interests and emerging risks.
The RCMP Online Safety website features curated resources and online material for parents, youth and teachers to find educational materials such as lesson plans and evaluation tools as well as websites and information for youth about cyber safety. The RCMP Online Safety website has nation wide focus. Note that RCMP is a partner on E2C.
Created by the FBI, the SOS program teaches young people about web terminology and how to recognize secure and trustworthy sites. Other lessons cover how to protect personal details online, create strong passwords, avoid viruses and scams, be wary of strangers, and be a good virtual citizen. Students in third through eighth grades visit the island that corresponds with their grade level and surf through activities that teach how to recognize hazards and respond appropriately.
National Cyber Security Alliance and McAfee® are providing free cybersecurity posters and accompanying activities to schools nationwide. These are lessons for elementary and high school students.
This site by the Toronto District School Board features interesting recordings called 'Virtual Field Trips' on a number of topics about online behaviour, cyber safety, data protection and more. Speakers for these videos include TDSB digital specialists and teachers as well as professionals from partners at MediaSmarts, ISTC and others.
This site by the Toronto District School Board features detailed activity and lesson plans organized by division. These Digital Citizenship lesson plans focus on on teaching data and identity protection as well as providing background information for youth about safe, legal and ethical online behaviour and intellectual property.
Using a Kids Health perspective, this peer-reviewed website features separate sections for parents, teens, educators, and younger kids about healthy online behaviour and ways to stay safe and smart. There is a strong emphasis on privacy, social media and cyber bullying with this resource.
Created by Cisco, a new digital adventure where you can access our team’s latest security research and hunt down threats in a retro, underground cyberworld while you do it. If you’re feeling competitive, find as many “Easter eggs” as you can to boost your score and join our Leaderboard.
Many children feel they know how to avoid getting hacked, but the reality is most of them don’t. In fact, over 1 million identities of children are stolen every year. To combat this issue Wizer has created a curated a set of Internet Safety learning activities and tools for kids to be safe and informed online.
YouTube has developed a learning tool called Copywrite School. This online learning tool features a video and quiz for elementary students that discusses copywrite and content sharing.
Zoe and Molly Online is a website operated by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. This website features a suite of learning materials including virtual comic books, an online game, and quiz for children in grades 3-4 about cyber safety. This web site also comes with lesson plans, powerpoint slide decks, smart board presentations for use by teachers to use in classroom contexts.