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What can be Unsafe Online?

It’s easy to find fun things on the internet. But some of these things can be harmful to you online and in real life, so it’s good to be aware of the risks.

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Online Scams and Fraud


You’ve probably heard of online scams before, but it’s one of the things that make the internet so dangerous. A scam is any fake business or scheme that takes money, personal information or other goods from an unsuspecting person. Online scams are very clever at seeming real, so it’s important to know how to recognize them and keep yourself safe. Try to stay on websites with a secure connection. You can tell if you’re on a secure connection by checking the address bar to see if there is a padlock (see below). You’ll see it on the most updated versions of common browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

Some ways to help spot a scam are:

  1. The email or message is from someone you don’t know and it comes from a strange email address or from a free email provider like Gmail.
  2. The message promises something too good to be true like a prize from a contest you never entered or money.
  3. The message asks you for personal information.
  4. If the message is business related, then it may ask you to buy or invest quickly.

Often people pretend to be someone else on the internet. They may say they are a representative from a company that you know, or pretend to be a friend or family member to try to gain your trust. If it seems suspicious, then it probably is. Trust your instincts.

If you find yourself on a site that may be trying to scam you, leave the site immediately. If the scammer says they are from your bank or the government, you can call your bank or look on the government website to see what official government communication would contain. If you think you’re the victim of a scam, you can report the incident to local police or contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

Viral News and Challenges


Viral content often stands out, spreads widely and rapidly. It’s hard to know what might go viral – songs, pictures, videos, news articles or challenges. If you make online content, like a Youtuber or a blogger, going viral might be what makes you popular online, but you should be cautious if you plan on participating in some of these trends.

When you see something online, read a news article or watch a news clip, it’s important to know how to spot if it’s genuine or if it’s fake news. Being able to think critically about what’s in front of you is a great skill to have.

Viral video challenges have also grown in popularity since the rise of Youtube, Imgur, Reddit and other online sharing sites. These videos typically “challenge” people to do something and then pass on the challenge to someone else at the end of the video. If you plan on joining in on a viral video challenge, you should consider any risks involved with it and do your research before participating. Sometimes, a viral video could be supporting a good cause, like the Ice Bucket Challenge, and others are for entertainment like the Cinnamon Challenge, but both can be very dangerous. Before filming you should think about the following:

  1. Did I look up any health or other risks related to this challenge?
  2. Do I want to do this, or do I feel forced to do it?
  3. If I decide to do this challenge, am I able get any required medical care if I need it?

If your answer is “No” to any of these questions, you should reconsider your filming process and maybe think of a new video idea. Going viral is not worth any risk to your health or well-being.



Sextortion is blackmail. It is when someone threatens to send a sexual image or video of you to other people if you don’t pay them. Sextortion is a scam, and it’s trending. If it happens to you, you are not alone.

What can you do if sextortion happens to you?

  • Never pay the person threatening you or send them more images.
  • Stop chatting with them immediately.
  • Take screenshots of the threatening messages and the user’s profile.
  • Block the account and report it to and/or the police. 
  • Report the activity to the platform you’re using.
  • Seek the help of a trusted adult, if available.
  • Access support services, such as counselling or victim services, to take care of yourself while you’re going through this.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

You don’t have to deal with sextortion by yourself. The Canadian Centre for Child Protection can help you get images removed from online. They can also connect you to peer support with other young people who have experienced sextortion. There IS life after images.

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.