Teens use technology like texting, gaming, social networks, the internet, and online chats to:
For many, their online lives matter as much as their offline lives.
Technology can help teens:
The benefits are more likely to happen when teens are allowed to practice being online and when trusted adults talk with them about the opportunities and the challenges.
Sometimes technology use can lead to:
Teens with a good understanding how online media works (like knowing privacy settings) and skills to critically understand and create content are less likely to experience problems with technology use.
Teens get messages about sexuality and relationships through technology every day. This includes messages about:
Sometimes these messages are directly about sexuality, like in pornography or sexts. Other times, the messages are more subtle, like in video games, advertisements, or video clips.
Some of the ideas teens get from technology can support sexual health and encourage healthy decisions. Others may be negative, leading to harm or dangerous situations.
Sexting is sending sexual words, nude or semi-nude photos, or sexual videos through texts or instant messaging apps.
Some teens sext to explore sexuality, identity, and boundaries. It can be a way of showing sexual interest as they practice relationships and communication skills.
Most sexting is consensual and stays between sender and receiver. Sexting people they don't know is unhealthy and could be against the law.
Teens need to know that even though sexting can feel private and safe, when a message, photo, or video is sent to someone, there is no guarantee that it will stay private.
Some teens access pornography as they explore their sexuality. It's important they understand that pornography:
Talk to teens about privacy, technology, and safety, whether or not you think they sext or use pornography. The same rules for healthy communication in real life apply online. When you teach about communicating online, teach about trust, respect, privacy, and consent. Some healthy messages to share with teens are:
Setting limits about technology use can help teens use media in healthy ways and stay safe.
Not everything online makes people feel good. Some media messages can be negative, like bullying, threats, homophobia, or racism.
Talk to your teen about cyberbullying and sexting. Tell them they can talk to you or another adult they trust if something they see or receive upsets them.
If you're worried about your teen's safety, contact your local emergency services.
To report online sexual abuse or exploitation of children, go to
If you are a child or teen looking for support any time, day or night, call
Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868. You can also call Health Link at 811 to talk to a registered nurse or to find programs or services near you.
Current as of: January 5, 2023
Author: Sexual and Reproductive Health, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.