Health Matters

Resources for Healthy Social Media Habits

January- Data Privacy, Safety, and Usage

  1. Does your child or teen prefer to spend time in front of a screen than with family? 
  2. Do you have trouble getting your child or teen away from the screen, device or game to spend time with family? 
  3. Does your child or teen spend more than 2 hours a day in front of a screen (for example, computer, video game or phone)? Homework doesn’t count. 

Yes? Here are some strategies!

Schedule Time to Connect: Try to set aside tech-free time to spend with your child or teen one-on-one everyday. Although this can get harder as kids get older, spending even a few minutes each day to connect will give you and your child time to listen, learn, and bond.

Connect with Nature: Try to schedule time outside. Studies show that being in nature can improve mental health and well-being. It has even been suggested that people in today’s society may, in fact, suffer from ‘nature deficit disorder’. 

Set Limits: Consider your child’s age, social and emotional development, and habits before introducing new technology into your home. Limit recreational screen time for older children and teens to 1 or 2 hours each day (Canadian Paediatric Society). Consider limiting your child’s access to wifi. There are several apps designed to help such as ‘Apple’s Screen Time App’ for iOS and ‘FamiSafe Screen Time Limit App’ for Android

Technology, like other activities that teens engage with, has the potential to either harm or enhance mental and physical health. There is a health difference between a teen who plays a solitary game that doesn’t encourage mental stimulation and a teen who challenges his friends to a world-puzzle app. There are many positive apps and games for teens that promote good health, socialization and mental stimulation. 

Pro: Technology opens the entire world to your teen. There is almost no question that they cannot find an answer to on the internet. The more knowledge your teen possesses, the likelihood that their “learning” drive will increase (motivation to learn more!). 

Con: Studies show that using media devices at any time during the day can stimulate cortisol, the stress hormone, and limits the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. The stress hormone can be released when your teen is looking at confusing or distressing content online. With that, sleep experts recommend that everyone (especially teens) not engage with technology within two hours of bedtime. 

Talking point with your teen: 

Have a conversation with your teen regarding the advantages and disadvantages of technology. Encourage your teen to make choices about technology use based on quality over quantity. For example, needlessly scrolling through social media for hours can lead to addictive behaviors. Research shows when an individual scrolls through their social media feeds, switching between content quickly, the brain gets a hit of dopamine ( a happy hormone) each time creating a form of neurological high. This can lead to addiction and behaviors that cause poor mental health, anxiety and depression. 

February: Careful Connections and Cyberbullying

Some of the biggest internet dangers include:

Online Scams

Romance Scams

Inappropriate Content 


Faulty Privacy Settings 

Data Breaches 

Essential Tips For Careful Connections

1. When you go online in a public place and use a public WI-FI connection, you have no direct control over its security. Using public WI-FI is not always safe but can be unavoidable when you are at school or out. If using a public WI-FI, avoid carrying out personal transactions such as online banking or shopping. 

2. Be careful what you post! The internet does not have a delete key. Any comment or image you post online may stay online forever because removing the original does not remove any copies that other copies that other people may have made. In other words, there is no way to ‘take back” a comment you wish you hadn’t made or remove an image you posted. 

3. Be careful about disclosing personal information about yourself online. Avoid disclosing your address or date of birth in social media bios! 

4. People you meet online are not always who they claim to be. They may even not be real. There is a rise in online dating scams in recent years, so exercise caution and use critical thinking when meeting people online through social media! 

5. Avoid connecting with suspicious profiles and block and report suspicious users. If the person you matched with has no bio, linked social media accounts, and has only posted one picture, it may be a fake account. It’s important to use caution if you choose to connect with someone you have so little information about.


Creating Meaningful Connections

This Valentine’s Day, consider giving your loved ones – partners, friends, parents, children – the gift of conversation. The following tips can help make your conversation meaningful:

1) Listen! The best conversationalists are good listeners. Be genuinely interested in the other person and what s/he has to share.

2) Be comfortable with silence. Rather than trying to think about what you are going to say next, really hear your partner, then take time to think about your response.

3) Ask questions! We are experts on ourselves. Spark conversation by asking your partner about things that are important to him/her. Prepare ahead of time by thinking of things s/he is doing or current events that might be interesting.

There are few things more positive and healing to our souls than to be truly connected to another person. This Valentine’s Day consider a gift of conversation. Creating space in our lives for others to feel heard, loved, validated and understood is one of the greatest gifts we can give.                            

Valentine's Day Tips for Healthy Connections

1. Take your love offline: Screen fatigue is real. If you’re feeling tired of virtual connections, try other ways of expressing your love. Write someone a letter, arrange a walk or surprise a friend with a phone call. Doing something different can energize you. Research demonstrates the importance of disconnecting to better social connections, improve sleep, and enhance mindfulness.

2: Connect with your favorite person or pet: Instead of Valentine’s Day reminding you of what you don’t have, let it be an opportunity to connect with those you do have. Set up a date with a family member, prepare a fancy meal for your cat, or surprise your friend with a delicious treat. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but reaching out can help to alleviate loneliness, and make you feel more connected to those you love.

3. Forcing roles: “Roles” as in duties and expectations, not baked goods. Some may fold under the standard roles of “Valentine’s Day" and feel that the holiday is old-fashioned. Having careful and open communication can help fend off disappointment and help to foster an understanding for every perspective.


CYBERBULLYING is using online and mobile technology to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated & hostile manner.

Building healthy relationships is one of the best ways to prevent bullying and create safe environments. Getting involved is easy. Wear your pink shirt, take a photo and share it on social media with the #PinkShirtDay and #BeKindAB hashtags! Check out for more resources on cyberbullying, support for parents and teachers and tips for cyber safety!

4 Steps to Stop Cyberbullying


STOP: Don’t try to reason with or talk to someone who is cyberbullying you.

BLOCK: Use the block sender technology to prevent the person from contacting you again.

TALK: Tell a trusted adult, inform your school or use a help line.

SAVE: Save any instant messages or emails you receive from the person bullying you, or capture any comments or images that have been posted online.


1) Talk about it with someone you trust, like a school counsellor or trusted adult, and try to find a healthy way to change what is happening or how you react to it.

2) Call a help line – reaching out to a counsellor in an anonymous way can help make talking about it easier. KidsHelpPhone.  1-800-668-6868.

The Science of Kindness

The science behind kindness and how it’s good for your health!

Being considerate, helpful and thoughtful are the core qualities of kindness. People who have these qualities improve the lives of those around them and, in general, enjoy better health due to the biological changes that occur while being kind.

Side Effects of Kindness

Studies indicate that simply witnessing acts of kindness can have positive side effects.

1) Kindness can increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion, and improve mood.

2) Kindness can increase your sense of connectivity with others, which can directly impact loneliness, improve low mood and enhance relationships in general.

3) Being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being and cause the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up!

Don’t forget about self-kindness!

It is very important to be kind to yourself! Often, we can engage in negative self-talk and that leads to negative feelings, negative emotions. This in turn can lead to anxiety and depression. Use the “good neighbor rule”- treat yourself as if you would treat your neighbor or friend, with kindness and respect. If you wouldn’t say it to your good friend or neighbor, do not say it to yourself

March: International Women's Month

International Women's Day 2023 campaign theme: #EmbraceEquity

Equity means creating an inclusive world. Each one of us can actively support and embrace equity within our own sphere of influence. Allies are incredibly important for the social, economic and cultural advancement of women. 

How will you embrace equity?

  1. Share the passion and excitement that comes from valuing and supporting differences.
  2. Reflect on how we can all be part of the solution, not the problem.
  3. Encourage and rally your friends, classmates,  family, colleagues, and community to embrace equity. 

False Perfection: Instagram Goggles

Social media use can lead to unrealistic expectations and can foster a sense of perfectionism in young adolescents. Comparing oneself to ideals portrayed on platforms such as Instagram or Facebook, which represent lifestyles and images that are unattainable or that don’t even exist in real life, can lead to a heightened state of anxiety, and low self-esteem.

In addition, experts say there is a direct link between the use of social media filters and increased feelings of body dysmorphia. In fact, doctors have recently coined the term “snapchat dysmorphia” to reflect their patients’ increasing obsession with perceived flaws in their physical appearance. Adolescence is already a time of heightened self-consciousness accompanied by the desire to fit in, making youth especially susceptible to these negative effects.  

Ways to Combat Perfectionism, Body Dysmorphia, and Unrealistic Expectations

1. Check the facts. Remember that a lot of social media content is highly curated and does not accurately represent real life. We do not really know the people we idolize who are in the public eye. Remember that people can pick and choose what they share and how they portray themselves, so you are not getting an accurate view of the complexity of life with all its missteps and mistakes.

2. Share your thoughts and feelings. Talk about how you feel after scrolling social media platforms. Do you feel good or bad about yourself? Does it make you want to change things about your appearance? Do you find yourself preoccupied with your body and image, and forget the other important aspects to your identity like your personality, interests, and hopes and dreams?

3. Focus on the positives. Try and catch your negative self-talk. For every one thing you are not satisfied with, try to think of 3 personal qualities you have that you do appreciate!

4. Seek help. Talk with your doctor or therapist if you think you may be struggling with symptoms of body dysmorphia such as constantly comparing your appearance to others, or being preoccupied with a perceived flaw that others fail to notice or would describe as minor. Therapists use a variety of techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Exposure Therapy to combat perfectionism and body dysmorphia.

April: Stress Awareness Month

Support Healthy Sustainability

Spending time in green spaces is clinically proven to be good for your health (even just a walk outside!)  Experts also say you can combat depression and anxiety by living a more sustainable lifestyle. It can also deliver many mental health benefits:

Improved mindfulness- Sustainable living improves mindfulness. Through the process of examining the environmental impact of your daily activities, you become more aware of the influence your actions have on your mood and emotions. You focus better and ruminate less.

A sense of purpose- Having a goal to further sustainability (example: composting or reusing materials) can boost your confidence and self-worth as you work toward a greater purpose. Spreading awareness about the environment and adopting sustainable practices can give you a sense of accomplishment!

Improved physical health. Reducing your carbon footprint by walking or cycling instead of driving can relieve stress, improve your mood, and lead to better sleep quality. Another example is growing your own vegetables which involves physical activities such as shoveling and weeding. This can increase the production of serotonin which boosts your mood!

May - Setting Social Media Limits

Kids in today’s society have access to a variety of content at their fingertips! Parental controls
were created to help parents monitor and restrict certain content viewable by their children.
There are a variety of tools available to parents to help set content and privacy restrictions,
prevent explicit content, monitor what their child is posting or viewing on social media, limit
total screen time and more! Please see the links below for a description of the parental controls
available to you and how to use them:

The White Hatter

Digital Literacy and Internet Safety Over 25 Years

The White Hatter is an internet safety and digital literacy education specialist company based in North America facilitating workshops and providing presentations on technology safety and privacy. They work with families, schools, businesses, charities, and not-for-profits helping to cultivate opportunities and address challenges in a digital world: