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Virtual love: Falling in love with someone you’ve never met

Cybersafety advice

Privacy settingsCheck them regularly to protect your accounts

Protect your various accounts by choosing the strongest privacy settings 🔏. And check the privacy settings from time to time. During updates, they automatically revert to a default configuration, which often allows very wide access to your posts. It’s up to you to decide who can see your posts and who you’ll let access your personal information (date of birth, hometown, etc.) 🔑. Who do you allow to see what? 👀

PasswordsChange them and don’t share them

Never use your name, date of birth, or a sequence of numbers or letters as your password. Keep your password just for you, unless your parents ask for it, and never give it out online. If you give someone your password, you could find yourself in an awkward situation. What might your brother or sister do to tease you? What might a friend you’re having a fight with post? And what might your ex who’s mad at you write?

Disconnection and security codesWhen you use a computer or cell phone

It’s crucial to disconnect from your accounts after the session, especially if you’re using someone else’s computer or device or a shared device. And put a security code on your cell phone. Keep it secret and make sure your friends or other people nearby can’t see it when you type it in. It’s the bare minimum to protect your access and your personal information!

GeolocationOnly when you need it

The whole world doesn’t need to know where you are right now! As a rule, don’t disclose your location to just anyone. The geolocation service is linked to your apps, so you can choose to use it only when you need to (for example, to find your way). Only tell people you know and trust where you are.

Personal informationGive it out as infrequently as possible

Never give out ✋ your contact information (address, phone number) in a public message or in the personal information in your profile. When you sign up, you can decide whether to use your real name or remain anonymous by using a pseudonym. Nothing forces you to provide all your information! Only write what’s absolutely mandatory and be sure to check the privacy settings so you don’t make that information available to everybody.

Friend requestsAccept only people you already know

If you get a friend request from someone you don’t know, ignore it. Even if it’s a friend of a friend, it’s still a stranger. You’re not obligated to accept their request just because they’re connected with one of your contacts! By limiting the number of contacts you have, you’re keeping better control over the people who see what you post. Having a long list of friends on social media doesn’t necessarily mean you’re popular!

How to figure out what’s true or false online?

Frequently asked questions

I feel sad if I don’t have lots of likes. Why?

Even if we don’t want to find likes 👍, important, some small part of us may still want to see a sign that we’re liked (or not). You can’t change the fact that social media use likes. But you can choose the importance you attribute to likes and how you react to them. If you feel sad because you compared your likes to a friend’s, remind yourself of what’s important to you, what you’re passionate about, and what you’re proud of.

Someone’s threatening to post a sexy photo of me. What can I do?

This situation is unacceptable and illegal in many countries: no one has the right to threaten to distribute private information or intimate photos of you. Immediately cut off contact with the person who’s threatening you. Then tell an adult you trust, such as a parent 👩🏾‍🏫. Contact the police directly.👮‍♀️

My friend liked a photo and that bothers me. What can I do?

You can’t control another person, his/her reactions, or his/her use of the Internet and social media. However, you can ask yourself questions and work on yourself 🤔. Why does this bother you? Are you jealous? Are you afraid of something for him/her? Once you’ve identified why you feel uncomfortable, you can talk with the person concerned. Often a face-to-face conversation will calm your anxieties and clear up any misunderstandings.

I can express myself more easily online than face to face. Why?

Behind the screen, we can’t see other people. So we feel less embarrassed and share private information faster. That can give us the impression we’re in a trusting relationship, whereas we don’t really know who’s on the other side of the screen! Fear of rejection is also less strong than if we were facing the other person, since we can’t see his/her reactions directly.

But don’t forget: when we’ve never met someone in real life, we don’t really know them! We don’t have all the information: how this person acts with his/her friends and family, his/her habits, his/her attitude in daily life. And that’s true for the other person too: he/she doesn’t really know us!

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