Staying Healthy

To all the parents and caregivers out there: you are doing an amazing job! Remember to take a moment for yourself, to breath, stretch, whatever you need to keep being your best self. Hang in there and keep up the great work!

Positive health and wellness starts at home. By staying active, eating healthy, connecting with friends and family, and being mindful, you are supporting lifelong wellness. You can help your family stay healthy, physically active, emotionally healthy, and technologically safe and savvy. Consider the information and resources below as you make choices for your family.



Physical Wellness

Parents and caregivers have an important role to play in their child’s health, whether it be learning a new skill or helping their child make healthy food choices. Make time as a family for daily physical activity at the correct intensity level, and choose healthy meals and snacks. These will help improve physical fitness, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase focus, academic performance, and your child’s quality of life.

Have you ever wondered how much movement your child should be doing in a day? You can check out the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology’s (CSEP) Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth for recommendations. Typically, children and youth need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. Finding ways to stay active and limiting sedentary (sitting) behaviours can support your child’s health. Too much screen time can lead to physical inactivity, interfere with school work, increase snacking, and disrupt sleep. When possible, be active outdoors while continuing social distancing.

Many families are spending more time together and will have many opportunities to teach health skills and discuss topics related to staying healthy. Some of the topics that may arise may include ideas about nutrition, hygiene, sleep, and exercise.

Encouraging your child to stay physically active

How can you encourage your child to stay physically active?

  • Explain to your kids that sitting less and moving more will help them feel great and stay healthy.
  • Encourage opportunities for your child to explore different types of activities, challenges, or movement skills rather than daily training regimes. Focusing on fundamental skills such as running, jumping, throwing or catching is especially important for younger children.
  • Think about the use of spaces in and around your home and the use of common household materials. Something as simple as a cardboard box can be used to create an activity. Use many different spaces and materials, such as recycled paper products, soup cans, or a broomstick. Be creative, be fun, be safe! View this equipment replacement list, for ideas of how to use common household items to support children’s physical activity.
  • Find activities that are fun, increase the heart rate, and keep children playing. The number one reason why children participate in physical activity and sport is because it is fun and engaging.
  • Set limits on screen time for you and your child, but do not use screen time as a reward or punishment. It makes it seem more important to children.
  • Plan family outings that involve physical activities or think of opportunities for active transportation. For example, if the playground is a 10-15 minute walk, choose to walk or ride your bikes, instead of taking a car.
  • Children will model your behavior, so be sure to set a positive example and be physically active yourself.

Physical Education/Health Education Resources

Physical and Health Education Canada Home Learning Centre: Try these practical and fun health education activities for Early Years, Middle Years, and Senior Years students. Activities are organized into physical activities, healthy eating, and emotional well-being.

ParticipACTION: Explore these tips for staying active and healthy. Explore the physical activity report card for children and youth.

Manitoba Healthy Schools: Explore six health topics that support student wellness.

Active for Life Resources for Parents: View these resources to help your child develop physical literacy. This site provides hundreds of examples of home-based physical activities for children.

Gopher Sports PE At-Home: View blogs, videos, and other at-home learning resources to stay active and have fun.

APPLE Schools Home Challenges: Try these family-centered challenges that are fun and promote staying healthy. Begin the Family Olympics Challenge or join in with Fun in the Sun with Vita-Man D!

DancePL3Y (Dance play): Turn on these YouTube dance videos for inspiration and to boost mental health and activity.

Dark Horse Athletic Challenge: Try these 40 fun and safe video challenges for elementary children to stay active and foster a love of physical activity and a growth mindset.

Fan Lit: Explore this Manitoba-based resource to support children and youth as they learn about food and nutrition.

PBS Kids Careers in Health and Physical Education: Explore many careers that help people live healthy, balanced lives, such as genetic counsellors, biomedical engineers, and others. You can search for information by grade.

Yoga for Children: Try these yoga and mindfulness moves for kids aged 3+.

Go Noodle: This site provides movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts.

Living True Sport: Use these family-friendly activities to stay active and develop physical and ethical literacy.


Social and Emotional Wellness

Caring for your child’s wellness is the most important priority. They may be affected by recent changes in many ways. There are many things you can do at home to help support your child’s social and emotional wellness.

In this section, you will find information and resources for noticing your child’s responses to the pandemic, and supporting their social and emotional health. You will also find information and resources to help your child understand, be safe, and feel comforted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noticing Your Child's Responses to the Pandemic

How might my child respond to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Children react in their own ways to challenging situations. They may react to stress, family worries, the moods of people around them, changes in routines, and the bad news they hear in media. Your child’s response to the pandemic will depend on their age, their level of awareness and understanding about the pandemic, and their physical or emotional nearness to an infected person or outbreak. Also, their experience with traumatic events in the past can affect how they respond.

Some children and youth may not tell you directly how they feel, but you may notice changes in their behaviour that reflect how they are feeling inside. These changes can include:

  • headaches, tummy aches, and nervous habits such as nail biting, hair twisting, or sighing deeply
  • mood changes such as being irritable, crying easily, being unable to settle down, and acting out (yelling, hitting, throwing things)
  • not acting in an age-appropriate way, such as starting to suck their thumb or wetting themselves
  • withdrawing or daydreaming

Helping Your Child Understand the Pandemic

How can I help my child understand the situation, be safe, and feel comforted during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Strengthen your connection with your child by being supportive and understanding. Provide your child with accurate information they can understand. Check out Caring for Kids, CBC Health, PBS for Parents, and The Globe and Mail for ways to talk to your child about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs COVID-19 Posters: View these posters in your spaces on physical distancing, connecting with and protecting Elders during the COVID-19 pandemic, tips for children, and handwashing. You can print them out and hang them up in your spaces.

  • Discuss COVID-19 stories and information that is created by or for kids.

    Nuttah & Kitchi – Project: Protect Our People: Enjoy this beautifully illustrated children’s eBook about staying safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is written by Sandra Samattee, illustrated by Julian Grafenauer, and published by GoodMinds.com—a First Nations family-owned business.

    Center for American Indian Health (CAIH) – Our Smallest Warriors, Our Strongest Medicine: Read this children’s storybook with your child. This story, which is published by CAIH at John Hopkins University, is written for Indigenous children affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    My Hero is You, Storybook for Children on COVID-19: Enjoy this heart-warming, beautifully illustrated book, aimed at 6-11 year olds. The book explains how children can protect themselves, their families and friends from coronavirus and how to manage difficult emotions during these complex times. It is available in many languages.

    Coronavirus, A Book for Children: Read this book by Nosy Crow created for children and their families to answer key questions about the science of viruses and the rules of physical distancing.

    Kids Help Phone Resources: Choose from many articles and tools for children and youth.

    CBC Kids: View this short video on social distance created by a teen.

    A Courageous Guide for Curious Kids: View this guide in Italian, English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Bulgarian, Albanian, BCS, Arabic, Persian, or Turkish.

    Something Strange Happened in My City: A COVID-19 Social Story for Young Children: This story about the coronavirus was developed by California State University to help children understand the changes they are seeing around them during the pandemic.

    Time to Come In, Bear: A Children's Story about Social Distancing: This short video, created by children's educator Kim St. Lawrence, provides young children with an explanation of why social distancing is now necessary.

  • Model healthy skills, attitudes, and behaviours for children and youth. There are many ways to reduce risk of COVID-19 and ways to slow the spread with social distancing. Some of these healthy behaviours will prevent the spread of the virus, such as:
    • staying home
    • washing hands thoroughly
    • social (physical) distancing
    • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when coughing or sneezing
  • Take care of yourself for your own well-being and others. Making sure to practise self-care and wellness strategies will help improve your energy and ability to cope, leaving you better able to support those who need you. For tips on staying well, check out Managing Stress during COVID-19, Anxiety Canada and the World Health Organization's Healthy At Home.

Supporting Your Child's Social and Emotional Health

How can I support my child’s social and emotional health?

Create a safe, positive home environment. Be aware of your child’s media use, both in terms of content and time spent on screens. Screen time to do school work or communicate with friends is helpful, but there should still be lots of time for off-screen activities. Be careful not to discuss important issues such as financial problems in front of your kids. Children tend to worry about these things.

Listen and respect their feelings. Reach out to your child and share the Kids Help Phone website and phone number. It is okay for children and youth to feel sad or angry. Encourage them to talk about how they feel. Keep communication open by asking questions and listening to your child. Mealtime can be a good time for talking. One suggestion for mealtime discussions is to have children write topics or questions beforehand that they would like to talk about, and then take turns choosing their discussion topics.

Create a sense of belonging. It is important that children feel connected and welcomed through transitions. This support helps them to build trust in others and themselves. Spend time with your child doing fun things together, and help your child build strong, positive relationships with their siblings, friends, and teachers.

Encourage good health habits. Good physical health supports good overall health. Model healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and enough sleep to protect your child against the stress of tough situations. Regular physical activity helps your child decrease negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression. The CSEP’s Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines recommend that children aged 4 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day, along with several hours of light physical activity (structured or unstructured).

Tips for Young Children

How can you help your child learn to manage and label their feelings? While you know your child best, here are some things you can think about:

Encourage play. It is therapeutic.

  • Let’s pretend! As your child acts out a story, they are learning about themselves and their feelings, and the feelings of those around them. Pull out puppets, stuffed animals, small toys and dolls, or clothes and hats to ‘dress-up’ with.
  • Water play can be a fun part of the daily routine, such as bathtub before bed. You can also fill up the kitchen sink or a basin on a table with water, bubbles, and plastic cups, funnels, etc., for your children to enjoy.

Help your child self-regulate and learn to deal with emotions and frustrations.

  • Reframe the way you think about your child’s behaviour during this time. Practise compassion instead of reaction.
  • Help your child find words to describe their feelings, and talk about your own feelings and those of others. Let your child know feelings are okay and praise them when they self-regulate. Having your child keep a journal to record what they think or feel each day helps your child express themselves.
  • Teach clear positive expectations every day. For example, if you have to be on a work call, what do you expect your child to do during this time?
  • Model and discuss reasons for desired behaviours. Why are we washing our hands more often (and singing the Happy Birthday song while we do so)?
  • Practise learning to control one’s breath, such as by blowing bubbles or blowing paint onto paper through a straw.
  • Assist with language by labelling actions, feelings, and emotions, such as “You look like you need a hug right now. Would that help you feel a little better?”
  • Provide a comfortable place for your child to take a break and calm down. This is not a time-out.

Offer your child sensory comfort when they feel upset, scared, or anxious.

Dr. Eileen Feliciano suggests these kinds of experiences can bring comfort to your child:

  • Touch: a soft blanket or favourite stuffed animal
  • Taste: a cup of hot chocolate or chicken soup
  • Sight: looking at photos together of a family vacation or celebration
  • Hearing: soft, calming music that you can listen to together
  • Smell: sage, lavender, or eucalyptus oil; home-baked cookies
  • Movement: a small swing or rocking chair
  • Perio-ceptive: a weighted blanket or pillow, big hugs, back rubs

Consider giving the okay for your children to express their feelings in many ways.

Your child may want to pound modelling clay when they are upset, or they may wish to use their biggest, loudest voice to shout, “I miss grandma and grandpa! I want to go to see them!”

Read books together—particularly books that describe feelings.

You can ask your child questions about the character in the story. For example, “Why was Alexander having such a terrible day?” “What was Franklin so afraid about?” These talks help your child consider feelings and even develop empathy for others.

Tips for Teens

Your teen may feel confined to home during the COVID-19 crisis, and this may present parenting challenges. Here are some additional tips for parenting teenagers during this time:

Emphasize social distancing.

Adolescents may not always comply with the guidelines for social (physical) distancing. They may not think they are at risk for becoming sick themselves, or they may be unaware of how they may put others at risk. Have conversations with your teen and model good behaviour.

Understand their frustration over not seeing friends.

Friends are a very important part of teens’ lives. Your child may feel frustrated about not being able to be with their friends. Their feelings of frustration are real and need to be heard and acknowledged. Encourage them to think of creative ways to interact socially and cope through changes.

Support remote schooling.

Your teen may struggle with new ways of learning with teachers from a distance. Help them create a realistic schedule for getting work done in defined periods, building in breaks for socializing, exercising, and entertainment. Commend them for developing excellent organizational skills, time management skills, technology skills, and work-life balance skills that will help them in their schoolwork and in future jobs.

Encourage healthy habits.

Help your teen develop positive habits to cope with stress, including getting adequate sleep, eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and participating in activities they enjoy. You have a key role in helping your teen see the benefits of health and wellness in maintaining a positive mood and improving their ability to fulfill life expectations.

Validate their disappointment and feelings.

Your teen will face many disappointments, as will the rest of the family. They will feel sadness as they grieve the loss of important life experiences that they were really looking forward to. Parents can help with this grieving process by providing opportunities to give their child space, share their feelings, and listen without judgment. Be understanding, acknowledge the stress they may be under, and express confidence in their ability to rebound.

Moving to a “new normal” is teachable. Help your teen apply the strengths they have gained for their learning and development.

Help them to practise mindfulness.

Practising mindfulness can teach your child to tune into their emotions and experience them without judgment, especially during times of frustration and disappointment. Building self-compassion is a crucial life lesson to help adolescents deal with stress, anxiety, and the emotions attached to challenging situations they will face throughout their lives.

If your teen is struggling with anxiety and depression, intervene. Reach out for help. You and your child can connect to the Kids Help Phone and get help from others, such as teachers or family doctors.

Additional Mental Wellness Resources for Teens

Teen Talk: Explore these taking care during Covid-19 resources including self-care suggestions, community supports, and stress reduction activities. You can also check out these activity books for youth created for teens in Winnipeg and Westman.


Digital Wellness

As parents and caregivers, you play an important role in modelling and shaping your family’s use of technology. Technology enhances our lives in many ways. It connects us with others, entertains us, inspires us creatively, and helps us as we learn and work. Unfortunately, it also has the potential to negatively affect our lives. Therefore, we need to be aware of the guidelines for technology use that are intended to keep us healthy and safe. Finding the right balance between technology use and all the other important aspects of our lives will look different for each family.

In this section, you will find information and resources for managing screen time, being safe and savvy online, protecting your privacy, and navigating social media.

Managing Screen Time

You and your child may be learning and working remotely and spending more time looking at a screen than usual. Screen-time habits have changed for most of us these days. Making time to connect with family, get exercise, have fun, and be creative is important in decreasing passive screen time. You can help your family practise healthy screen-time habits by creating plans for family media use and by co-viewing media.

How much screen time is too much?

The Canadian Paediatric Society has published the following screen-time guidelines for children.

Younger than 2 years old

No screen time

Learn more

Ages 2 to 5 years old

Less than 1 hour screen time per day.

Learn more

Ages 5 to 19 years old

Focus on how and when screens are being used based on the four M's:

  • MANAGE screen time
  • Encourage MEANINGFUL screen use
  • MODEL healthy screen use
  • MONITOR for signs of problematic screen use

Learn more


Please Note: The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends no more than two hours
per day of recreational screen time and limits sitting and lying down for long periods of time.

(Ponti; Canadian Paediatric Society)


Managing Screen Time Resources
Caring for Kids – Media & Literacy: Find out more about the Canadian Paediatric Society’s recommendations for screen time and digital media use for school-aged children and teens and children under 5 years old. You can use these resources to support healthy technology habits in your home and to consider ways of staying active.

Family Media Plan: Create a personalized family media plan and use the media calculator on this site to help you become aware of your family’s media habits and to help set goals to make sure those media habits are healthy.

Media Smarts – Co-Viewing with Your Kids: Read this tip sheet, which includes some questions to ask yourself so that you can be a more critical consumer of media. Also, find out more about teaching your child about healthy screen-time habits here.

Government of Canada – Mind-Screen Time: Consider these recommendations and ideas for alternative activities to screen time from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Tip Sheets.

The Canadian Paediatric Society has released surprising new screen time rules (Today’s Parent): Read this article about ways to be involved in your child’s media use.

How to Manage Your Child’s Screen Time: Listen to Dr. Katherine Rivera of the St. Louis Children’s Hospital talk about screen-time recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The video mentions the same Family Media Plan recommended by the Canadian Paediatric Society.

Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines: These guidelines from the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommend the integration of physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and sleep for a balanced and healthy day. Check out their Build Your Best Day! resource to create a plan for adding activities to help balance your day.

ParticipACTION website: Visit this website to get ideas on how to increase physical activity. Read the 2018 ParticipACTION Report Card to learn why kids need to move more to boost their brain health.

References

Ponti, Michelle. “Digital media: Promoting healthy screen use in school-aged children and adolescents.” Paediatric Child Health, Vol. 24, No. 6, Jun 6, 2019, pp. 402–408, www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/digital-media (Accessed 25 May 2020).

Canadian Paediatric Society. “Screen time and young children: Promoting health and development in a digital world.” Paediatric Child Health, 2017, Vol. 22, No. 8 pp. 461–468, www.cps.ca/en/documents/position/screen-time-and-young-children (Accessed 25 May 2020).

Being Safe and Savvy Online

Being safe and savvy online is a skill you and your family can learn together! As parents and caregivers, we want the best for our families, but sometimes we may not know how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the potential pitfalls of being connected online. Communication, awareness, and knowledge can help keep you and your family safe and savvy while online.

Create open lines of communication with your child. Let your child know that they can come to you at any time about anything. Encourage your child to come to you with things they question or that make them feel uncomfortable, ashamed, or scared. Let them know that they will not be reprimanded, punished, or have technology taken away from them. Identify trusted adults your child can talk to, such as their classroom teacher, when you or other family members are not available.

Be aware of what your child is doing online. Ask your child questions, co-view websites/apps together, and talk about what information would be okay to share online and what would not be. Talk with them about what to do if a stranger tries to start up a conversation with them online, etc.

Know where to get information and help. Take time to learn about online safety and where to go if you or your child have questions or need help. Take time to view Internet safety videos with your family, such as those from NetSmartz and Media Smarts (Digital Literacy Key Concepts).


Resources for Being Safe and Savvy Online
ProtectKidsOnline.ca: Find ways to stay on top of how your child is engaging in the digital world, brought to you by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. This site provides answers to the following questions:
Parenting the Digital Generation: Listen to this online tutorial from Media Smarts to learn tips and strategies to help your child safely navigate the online spaces and activities they enjoy.

Internet Safety Tip Sheets by Media Smarts: Find a tip sheet to learn more about safe and healthy Internet use for children, teens, and youth ages 2 to 4, 5 to 7, 8 to 10, 11 to 13, and 14 to 17.

Teaching Your Children Safe Surfing Habits: Read this Media Smarts guide for tips on to how to teach your child to stay safe when searching online for information, music, videos, etc.

How cyber-savvy are you? Cyber security quiz: Take this Media Smarts quiz as a family about some of the cyber security risks faced every day. Find more cyber security resources, tips, and strategies for managing cyber security risks of particular concern to children and teens on Cyber Security Overview and Resources for Parents – Cyber Security.

Raising Ethical Kids For a Networked World: Listen to this Media Smarts online tutorial to learn how to help your child be ethical, empathetic, engaged, and an empowered online citizen. Also, check out this tip sheet on promoting ethical online behaviours with your kids.

Learn about a variety of digital issues and find helpful resources by visiting the following MediaSmarts.ca support pages. Be Smart, Strong, and Safe! Enjoy this activity book for ages 11 and up from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. It teaches kids about healthy boundaries and how to be safe.

The Little Black Book of Scams, 2nd edition: This Government of Canada site allows you to learn fraud-fighting skills to help you and your family recognize different scams and red flags. Learn how to protect your family and where to get help. Watch anti-fraud videos to learn about each type of scam.

Protecting Your Privacy Online

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you and your child may be spending more time using mobile devices to learn, work, and socialize. When you sign up to use any online service for learning or for work, you are always asked to agree to the terms and conditions. What does clicking “I Agree” really mean? Do you know what private information will be collected and how, where, and why it will be used?

Even when we sleep, our personal data is being collected by our smartphones. All of our apps and devices are constantly collecting and distributing information back to their respective manufacturers. Our friends can even unknowingly share our personal information by sharing pictures of us.

How can you and your family keep personal information private?
  • Ensure you and your children have strong passwords or passphrases, and do not share them with anyone. Children often share passwords with friends so they do not lose their “streaks” (in Snapchat) if they do not have daily network access.
  • Children should use nicknames—not their real names—when creating accounts online.
  • Every search is tracked and used to customize advertisements for you and to filter results. Use a search tool such as DuckDuckGo.com or search using the “incognito” or “private browsing” mode and say no to “cookies” when asked if you do not want this information to be collected.
  • Nothing is free! When an app or content says it is free, you are usually paying for it by providing access to your personal information.
  • If you are using an app, check the following before downloading or providing personal information:
    • Only download from a trusted source or your device’s official app store.
    • Know who the developer or vendor is and check their website.
    • Scrutinize the permissions to see what data it will access, where your data will be used, and who your data will be shared with. Check if the app has requested access to your camera and microphone. If so, it may record your private conversations or copy all of your photos.
    • Research what other users of the app have to say and read the reviews on the app store.
  • Every post made online can be “geotagged,” which means that it is linked to your exact physical location through the global positioning system (GPS) software on your mobile device.
  • Keep in mind that you leave traces of your personal data every time you post comments on your friends’ walls, tweets, feeds, or when you post pictures and video, shop online, or watch videos.
  • Before providing personal banking information on a web browser to shop online, make sure the website has the following:
    • Look for https:// (it must have an ‘S’ in the browser address bar).
    • A padlock icon in the address bar.
    • Green text showing “secure” or a green address bar in some web browsers, such as Chrome, Explorer, or Firefox.

A Few More Privacy Tips

If any website or app is asking for personal information, read the privacy policy, terms, and conditions. This will help you to know who has access to your personal private information. If you have any doubts about an app, website, or online service, do not enter your private information. When anyone is taking your picture, video, or audio, remember to ask them how they will be using it or where they will be posting that recorded media.


Protecting Privacy Online Resources

Canada's Office of the Privacy Commissioner: View this informative fact sheet for “12 quick online tips for parents,” which provides steps that can be taken to ensure your child safeguards their own private information.

Media Smarts – Privacy Resources for Parents: Explore these resources on privacy and your rights as a consumer of online information, including digital and media literacy, which have been provided by this Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization. You will find games and activities to help your child learn about how personal information is collected and used online.

Caring for Kids – Online Privacy: Check out these suggestions from the Canadian Paediatric Society to help your child navigate social media websites and privacy policies and settings.

Children’s Online Privacy and Freedom of Expression Toolkit: Use this UNICEF toolkit that is intended to protect, respect, and realize children’s privacy and expression rights in a digital world. It is based on Article 16 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child:

  • No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.
  • The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Staying Safe on Social Media

Social distancing doesn’t apply to social media, so you may find that you and your child are spending more time using social media to connect with family, friends, and colleagues during the pandemic. Social media allows us to communicate using text, images, video, and live broadcasts that document everything we are doing in real time.

All the content we create using social media can be shared not only with close friends but with anyone in the world who uses the same social media app or service. The power of social media is in the massive network of friends, businesses, entertainers, and influencers that can be included in your child’s social network.

Social media is used by:

  • your child to document and share what they are doing with their network of friends
  • business to sell their products
  • entertainers to sell their brand and make money from interactions with their followers
  • influencers to promote events, products, and people for money

Every social media account is valuable, particularly when many people follow it. Countries, provinces, communities, and local sports teams use different social media to communicate and stay connected. Business organizations, schools, professional teams, community groups, and individuals can set up apps, websites, or their own social media tools to interact with their communities.

Social media can be fun, informative, and rewarding if we use it safely. Human beings are social and the use of social media amplifies our ability to communicate, make friends, collaborate, and share information. Using social media safely is about using caution, being persistent in asking the right questions—particularly about the friends you make online—and scrutinizing any information that is shared just as you would in an in-person interaction.


What social media apps are out there?

(reported as of April 2020.)

The following are the top-ten social media apps, ranked by number of registered users globally:

1. Facebook (FB) (2.2 billion users)

2. YouTube (owned by Google)

3. WhatsApp (owned by FB)

4. FB Messenger (owned by FB)

5. WeChat (owned by Tencent)

6. Instagram (owned by FB)

7. Tik Tok (owned by ByteDance)

8. QQ (owned by Tencent)

9. Snapchat (owned by SnapInc.)

10. Twitter (owned by Odeo; 340 million users)


How can you and your family stay safe when using social media?

  • Show an active interest in what your child posts to social media.
  • Follow your child’s online profiles, but be aware that some children create alternate accounts for parents to follow and have a separate one for just their friends.
  • Open an account on the same social media platforms so you can become aware of how they function and what personal, private information they ask you to provide.
  • Discuss what kind of content is appropriate to post. Talk with your child about what their images or videos show and how they can be easily copied and shared by anyone who sees them when they are posted online.
  • Talk to your children about how images and video shared on social media may not be truthful. Use Media Smarts’ “Break the Fake” resources to discuss fake news stories.
  • Ask your child about their online “friends” and whether they know them “IRL” (in real life). Ensure that they do not agree to meet people they have only friended online and that they never share their home address, telephone number, or school information with online friends.
  • Some apps are designed to be addictive or have “streaks” or rewards for constant use. Losing a smartphone or Internet connectivity can cause great anxiety or stress if “streaks” cannot be maintained.
  • It is important to be aware that spending time online may expose your child to cyberbullying, including intimidation or harassment, as well as to inappropriate sexual or violent content. This can be sent by anonymous “friends” or by automated accounts to any other account on some social media. Please ensure your child knows to report such content to you or another trusted adult and to never respond to any of these requests.

Staying Safe on Social Media Resources

Staying Safe on Social Media: Read these online tips from Canada’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner on how to use social media at home and in the workplace.

Media Smarts—Privacy: This Canadian not-for-profit charitable organization for digital and media literacy has provided various resources on privacy and your rights as a consumer of online information. Find games and activities to help your child learn about how personal information is collected and used online.

The Parent Network: Find guidance and tools on ways to help your child maximize the positive opportunities and minimize the negative experiences of social media. This resource helps parents and caregivers understand and provide tools related to children and technology.

Media Smarts Protect Kids Online: Explore information on a variety of digital issues to protect kids online, including these topics:

The Canadian Paediatric Society provides information for parents, caregivers, and teachers on its website Caring for Kids. Please check out this resource for more detailed information and activities.

CyberTip.ca: Explore many resources focused on the protection of children and youth provided by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, a charitable organization dedicated to personal safety of all children. The Internet Safety page contains current and age-appropriate information and resources to help educate Canadians about how to keep children safe while online.