Canadian Youth Flirt With Online Danger


A new survey, released today, of more than 1,000 Canadian youth aged 9-17 by Microsoft Canada Co. and Youthography, revealed surprising results of their Internet habits.

The results show that while young Canadians are aware of potential dangers online, many of them still engage in risky behaviour.

For the most part, youth rely on the Internet to communicate with friends and family, research information for homework and play games. They are concerned about Internet safety and more than three-quarters of them are very careful about the personal information they give out online.

The good news is that parents are becoming more engaged in their children’s online activities, compared to previous findings, with 84% of respondents saying they have had a discussion with their parents about the potential dangers of risky online behaviour. Eighty-six percent say their parents have taken measures to ensure they are safe online, such as locating the computer in visible locations like the family room or kitchen, rather than in a child’s room.

The bad news is that despite all this awareness, many youth still engage in risky online behaviour. The survey identified a number of key areas where Canadian youth continue to put themselves at risk, including:

Social Networking

·        Youth post personal information for public view, such as a profile picture (39%), home town (16%), name of school (20%), relationship status (22%), and e-mail address (21%) to social networking sites. Sharing more than one of these pieces of data can allow predators to easily uncover someone’s real identity.

·        30% of youth have lied about their age on a social networking site, 15% have pretended to be someone they are not, and more than 30% have accepted a friend request from a stranger.

Adult Content and Sexual Behaviour

·        1 in 4 males use search engines to find adult sexual content. 

·        More than 20% of youth visit sites that have pictures or videos showing violent acts, fighting, or racist content.


·        40% of youth have been bullied online, up from Microsoft’s research in 2004 where 25% respondents reported being cyberbullied. 16% admit to being the bully and of those, 50% say they did it because they were bullied first.

·        In general, 67% believe others bully online because they can do it without getting caught and 63% believe that the same kids who bully online usually bully in person.

Online Gaming

·        1 in 5 of those who play games in online communities has made contact (phone, email, in–person) with someone they have only ever met online gaming.

·        1 in 4 youth has been harassed when online gaming.


Online Behaviour

·        Forty-five percent of teens and 27% of tweens go to cyberspace to escape their problems, avoid family, deal with stress, relieve anxiety, deal with sadness or depression or feed their online addiction.

·        Youth, especially tweens are concerned about online safety, more so than drugs, alcohol, smoking, body image or sexually transmitted diseases.


“This is Microsoft Canada’s fourth iteration of online safety research and we believe this study offers one of the most comprehensive looks yet at the online activities of Canadian youth including gaming, cyberbullying and social networking,” said Gavin Thompson, Director of Corporate Citizenship, Microsoft Canada. “There are many encouraging results in the research, including the fact that youth rank online safety as a very important issue and that a majority of youth are making smart choices online. Despite this good news, many youth still engage in risky online behaviour. Microsoft Canada has made online safety and security one of our highest priorities and we recognize that as a leader in our industry we have a responsibility to do all we can to make it a safer place – especially for our children.”

In some ways I am not surprised of the risky behaviour of young Canadians. They are aware of the risk factours online, but continue to show more trust or simply think they won’t be the ones directly affected by online dangers.

According to numerous previous studies, it takes only 20 minutes for a stranger online to gain the trust of a young person.  

“It is important for parents to be involved in their children’s lives, which includes their on-line and videogame activities, as much as knowing about their friends, sports, music lessons and other things going on in their lives. It is also important to educate youth about the positives and the pitfalls of the cyberworld – but to do so, adults need to understand it first and to see how it has influenced their own activities, family values and work actions,” said Dr. Bruce Ballon, Head of the Adolescent Clinical Education Service (ACES) for Problem Gambling, Gaming and Internet Use at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

To read more about the research please see the Fact Sheet.

To read more about Microsoft Canada’s online safety initiatives and Microsoft Corporation’s continued focus on helping to create safe and secure technologies and increasing awareness amongst Canadians, please click here.


This Internet Safety Report was prepared for Microsoft Canada Co. by Youthography, January 2009

Youthography conducted online, representative random sample surveys of 1,065 children age 9-17 across Canada.

With a representative sample of N=1,000, the results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20



One Response to “Canadian Youth Flirt With Online Danger”

  1. pcpandoradvocate Says:

    More reasons for parents to realize they need to monitor their child’s internet activity. There is no excuse for not knowing where your children are going online and who they are talking to. Check us out: PC Pandora (

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