Youth and Technology

Youth and Technology

Content provided by the Ottawa Police Service

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There is no limit to the kind of information maintained by and accessible to Internet users. It is also a complex jurisdictional issue for police when it comes to investigating any online criminal activity.

If you are faced with a situation where you don't know what to do, good old-fashioned precautions work in the virtual world the same as they work in the real world. 

Technology advances so quickly today, it's sometimes difficult for people to keep up with the latest trends and devices but it's important for parents to know what their children/youth are doing online. Often times, youth don't think about the consequences that can result from their actions, behaviours or decisions. In fact, two of the most common concerns voiced by parents today are about Sexting and Cyberbullying.


The term 'Sexting' is a combination of the words sex and texting. It is the sending or receiving explicit electronic messages, containing nude or semi-nude photos or videos.

Between consenting adults, exchanging nude photos electronically is usually a legal activity however, creating and sending nude or sexually suggestive photos of people under the age of 18 goes against Canada's child pornography laws. Our primary objective is to protect children and teens from being exploited, harmed, embarrassed or bullied by adults or other youth through the creation and distribution of these images, videos or other content.

The child pornography sections of the Criminal Code of Canada are intended to prevent the sexual exploitation of young people. More information is available about Child Pornography.


Why do teens sext?

51% of teen girls say it was pressure from a guy.


Talk to your child/youth

Often times, youth don't think about consequences and they sometimes don't understand the full effects and potential dangers from posting content about themselves online.

In many cases, teens share these photos while in a relationship with someone but in reality, these relationships don't often last forever. In many cases where nude photos have been sent to large numbers of people, it was an ex-partner who distributed the photos.

In addition to this, technology is always evolving and parents don't always know what their children are downloading or what the latest online trend is.

Apps (applications or downloadable programs) like Snapchat, Instagram, Vine or KIK Messenger, (just a few examples), are a few of the many ways that people are creating and sharing content these days. But many apps and other social media sites give the user a false impression that they have full control over who will see their content and how it will be used. The truth is, there are many ways to find and access this content and once it's viewed, it's easy to store and share. With the click of a button, a screenshot can be taken, photos can be saved, webcams can be hacked, or photos/videos can be shared and computer history can be accessed. It's important to talk to youth about privacy issues and the long lasting impact that content they post may have on their reputation and goals in life. 


Sexting and the Law

Although the issue involves mostly teens, it could affect anyone and there can be criminal consequences for those who send, receive or have these photos in their possession, including parents who may not know what is stored on their electronic device.


When it involves nude images of people under the age of 18, sexting may violate Canadian Child Pornography laws. There can be criminal consequences for those who send, receive or have these photos in their possession, including parents who may not know what is stored on their electronic device.


Charges may include:

  • Possession & Distribution, Accessing of Child Pornography (having a picture or video, looking at it on the internet or just simply showing someone). When it involves nude images of people under the age of 18, sexting may violate Canadian Child Pornography laws. This is an especially important consideration for anyone who is considering sending photos to other people that they have received.
  • Luring (asking someone to do a sexual act over the computer)
  • Voyeurism (taking a picture or video without someone knowing)
  • Threats (telling someone you'll distribute their pictures)


Sexting can also lead to cyberbullying and a range of mental health issues including depression and suicide.


What Parents Can Do

The best thing you can do to help your child prevent any unwanted situations is to participate in your child's life and set expectations.

  • Spend quality time with your child and get involved in their pastimes.
  • Get to know your child's friends and their families.
  • Ask questions about where your child is going, with who and what they'll be doing. If need be, challenge your children's whereabouts or activities.
  • Monitor their cellphone usage and social media platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Snap chat, Instagram etc).
  • Ask them to show you what they do when they're online - what sites do they visit? What content are they searching? Who are they messaging or texting?
  • Be a positive role model and set the right example.


For more information or to speak to someone in our Youth Section, contact us at 613-236-1222, ext. 5355 or phone any of these help lines:

Child, Youth and Family Crisis Line for Eastern Ontario (24/7)

613-260-2360 or 1-877-377-7 775

Distress Centre of Ottawa (24/7)


Youth Services Bureau

613-260-2360 (24/7 Crisis Line)

Online bullying (cyber-bullying)


Ottawa Police Services takes bullying seriously.

In fact, bullying is just another word for harassment - a criminal offence - and it is a community issue that affects both youth and adults.

If you or someone you know is being bullied on or offline, it's important to tell someone. If you are being threatened, you should contact the police by calling 613-230-6211 or if at any time you feel that you're in immediate life-threatening danger, call 911.


Online Bullying (cyber-bullying)

When online, people often feel anonymous and say things that they would never say out loud or face to face.


What to do about online bullying:

  • Take a deep breath. It might be tempting to respond to the text, post, or email but it's better not to reply. Tell someone you trust instead.
  • Don't delete it. Save the messages or take a screen shot. For online messaging, e nsure that chat logging is turned on so that it records of conversations. Having a record of threatening, intimidating or harassing emails or messages may help police investigate.
  • Block the bully. If you don't know how to block them, contact your cellphone provider or check out the site's "help" section.


If you need someone to talk to , contact:

Do you have more questions about parenting?

  • Connect with a registered nurse from Health811 for free, secure, and confidential health advice. Service is available 24/7 in English and French, with translation support also offered in other languages. Call 8-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with a Community Navigator from 2-1-1 for information about community programs and resources across Eastern Ontario. Helpline service is available 24/7 and in many different languages. Call 2-1-1 or visit
  • Connect with other parents on the Parenting in Ottawa Facebook page.
  • There are a variety of services to make it easier for your child to grow up healthy in Ottawa.
  • You can update your child's immunization record using either the CANImmunize App or the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) Tool
  • If you have received a message from Ottawa Public Health such as a letter or a call regarding immunization, an infectious disease, or infection control lapse, please call 613-580-6744 and listen to the menu options carefully.

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