It’s bedtime – do you know where your children are surfing?

October 30, 2023 | Portfolio Advisor – Fall 2023


Five tips to help ensure your children are safely using and navigating social media

It’s bedtime – do you know where your children are surfing?

Since their introduction, social media apps and platforms have been eagerly embraced by Canadians. According to cybersecurity experts, there are 33 million Canadians who use social media, and of the specific apps, Facebook is the most popular with its 26 million users, while TikTok is the fastest growing.1

While most of us use social media safely and securely, our youngest social media users can be vulnerable. Children under 13 in particular face real and substantial dangers on and through social media, including cyber bullying, online luring, malware, inappropriate content, and online scams. And controlling their kids’ access to and engagement with social media is no easy thing to manage for parents. According to a recent report from MediaSmarts called Life Online (and the first in a series of reports released as part of the latest phase of “Young Canadians in a Wireless World”, a national survey of 1,058 youth ages 9 to 17 conducted in Autumn 2021), 86% of Canadian children aged nine to 11 “have an account on at least one platform that requires users to be 13 or older, and almost half of young people are worried they spend too much time online” – yet almost 60% of them would be “unhappy if they had to go offline for a week.”2

Social but secure – five tips to keep kids safe online

Perhaps because of its pervasiveness and kids’ online savviness, social media is getting a lot of unsupervised facetime with our kids. The same study from MediaSmarts found that 60% of parents aren’t checking up on their kids’ online behaviour, trusting them to make smart decisions and choosing to empower rather than spy on them. While that might work for some, even the savviest users can be fooled or taken advantage of online.

To help parents engage with, and create a positive strategy to help protect, their kids, here are five tips from our RBC cybersecurity experts:

  1. Beware of fake accounts: Children can be particularly susceptible to seemingly “friendly” requests to connect through social media sites, especially when the requestor purportedly shares similar interests. As a result, it’s important to educate kids to watch out for new “follow” or “friend” requests from people or companies they don’t know, given how easy it is for these accounts to be fake. Instead, aim to keep followers to people your kids know personally. And it’s a great best practice to review your kids’ friend and follower lists regularly, removing anyone they don’t recognize or who is no longer in their social circle. 
  2. Don’t overshare: Kids are often unguarded when it comes to the information they share online. It’s important to be aware of and control what one’s kids are sharing, even inadvertently, especially around their activities, location they will be in, and information about friends and family, such as vacation plans and times. As well, never post phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, pet names – these can be used to determine where a child is located, how to reach them directly, where they will be at a certain time, and is often information that can be leveraged to guess passwords or steal vital information.  
  3. Control privacy settings: Most social media sites allow users to control access to their information and posts via privacy controls. Make sure to use them, as doing so will limit exposure to information, while reducing the opportunities for nefarious accounts to learn about and contact your kids.
  4. Disable geotags or location services in apps: While they can serve an important function, geotags and location services allow phones and other devices to be tracked by location. This creates significant risks, as it allows cybercriminals, fraudsters, and others to see where you — or your children — are at any given moment. Disabling geotagging is particularly important because many smartphones and social media platforms enable geotagging by default.
  5. Set strong security questions: Another risk to your child’s social media account is others accessing it. It can help to occasionally revisit the security questions you or your kids answered when they first set up their account — it’s possible they’ve shared this information with people who are no longer friends. Regularly changing their security questions and other sign-in credentials can help keep their account safe.

Having a conversation with your children – whether pre-teen, teen or even young adult – and collaborating with them to establish a strategy or rules to protect them from online and social media threats, can go a long way to developing smart and safe Internet and social media app users. To learn more about cyber protecting your kids and other loved ones, check out the RBC Cybersecurity site.    



2New research reveals the online lives of youth during the pandemic (

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