What Kids and Teens Need to Know About Online Privacy

How many times have you thought, “Thank goodness smartphones weren’t a thing when I was a teen!”?  From our awkward headgear to frosted tips, bad fashion to questionable behaviour—none of it showed up on YouTube or Snapchat (or any other social media sites) for everyone to see.

Today’s tweens and teens growing up with smartphones and social media, don’t have the luxury of analog amnesia. More than two billion iPhones have sold since Steve Jobs launched his smart phone in January 2007.  It’s no wonder every moment of kids’ lives seem to be tracked, captured, and digitized—and not always for the good.

Social media is great for staying connected (and who doesn’t need a funny cat video once a while), but our reliance on it comes at a price to our privacy.

In Canada, a patchwork of federal and provincial privacy laws regulate how our information is collected, stored and used. But technologies, and how we use them, are evolving faster than the legislation creating a digital Wild West that leaves users, including tweens and teens, vulnerable to data breaches and, worse—exploitation. 

 “As privacy risks continue to evolve in an ever-changing environment with the advancement of new data technologies and digitization of daily life, it’s important for kids and teens to be ‘privacy data literate,’ or aware of their privacy online,” says Balraj Lochab, a Certified Information Privacy Manager (CIPM), and parent to two teens. “They also need to be equipped with the knowledge and understanding of privacy risk, so they can protect themselves now and in the future.”

Sound overwhelming? It can be. But arming yourself and your kids with education and action is the best way to keep your family safe.

What is online privacy? 

Before getting into how to protect your kids, you should know what is considered personal information. “What we don’t realize is that sometimes pieces of information alone are not personal, but if you stitch them together, they can identify you,” says Lochab.

Your personal information includes anything that identifies you as a person. There are the obvious examples—your name, address, birthday, and address—but also things you like (your pet), things you do (a part-time job), and images of you (aka: selfies).

Protecting your online privacy means asserting control over your personal information, and making responsible choices about how it is collected, used, and shared.

How is my personal information being collected online? 

There are plenty of overt ways our information is collected online, such as when you create an account to shop online or a profile for Instagram. But your information is collected in subtle ways, too, including every time you:

  • Create a new social media account 
  • Take an online personality test or IQ quiz
  • Fill out an online marketing survey that promises points for participating
  •  Register to download programs, games or plug-ins
  • Visit a mall with your phone’s Bluetooth or location settings turned on
  • Use an app on your phone

Others are collecting information about you, including your Internet Protocol (IP) which can be traced back to you. You should also be aware of cookies—not the delicious kind. Cookies are small files passed to your computer that save information about how you interact with the website, such as what pages you visit and how many times, your location, and even your name. Cookies can be useful because they can retrieve information like a website login and shopping cart selections to personalize your browsing experience. Unfortunately, they could also open the door to cyberattacks.

Read more about how to shop online safely

Why is online privacy important for kids and teens? 

Your kids or teens could be at risk of identity theft. For example, in December 2015, children’s technology maker VTech reported a massive data breach via its Learning Lodge app affecting more than 10 million customer accounts, including 6.3 million kids worldwide. While no credit card information was exposed, the hacker stole names, email addresses, passwords, IP addresses, mailing addresses, download histories, and kids’ profile photos. This not only puts kids at risk for identity theft, but also at risk of being targeted by people who prey on children should they access this information now circulating online. 

It’s not just the financial and safety risks to consider. Teens and tweens may also face reputational risk, says Lochab, with short- and long-term impacts and consequences. “Things you post online today can stay there forever and can affect what friends, teachers and even future employers think,” she says. “As we get older we may change how we feel about past items posted online, and unfortunately these cannot be erased easily.”

What you should always keep in mind is that nothing you post on the internet is private. Anything can be copied, pasted and transmitted anywhere else online. It can be saved onto hard drives, printed out or e-mailed to anyone else. Everything you post could become public and could be permanent. Once it’s out there, it’s out there. 

How to talk to kids about online privacy 

Tweens and teens face enormous peer pressure on social media—to post, tag themselves, take quizzes, share their location—and the need to fit in may get stronger as they get older. Talking to kids about online privacy early and often is key to helping them make decisions that protect their privacy.

 “Keeping conversations open about what kids and teenagers see online and how it makes them feel is important in creating privacy literacy and awareness,” says Lochab. 

She adds this isn’t a ‘one and done’ conversation, but ongoing: from the time they start logging onto computers, receive their first personal device and start using social media or playing video games. 

 “There are amazing things about having an online presence,” Lochab says. “It’s about teaching kids to be responsible and giving them the independence to make good decisions.” 

Learn more: How to set social media boundaries for kids and teens

8 ways kids can protect their online privacy

 Talking about online privacy may seem daunting, but kids and teens can still enjoy their smartphones and keep their data safe. Here are eight ways tweens and teens can protect their privacy online:

1. Set family rules and online boundaries

Along with your kids, come up with a set of ground rules for social media use, such as only following people they personally know or turning location settings off. Rules can be customized for each member of the family. (Check out this DIY house rules for online privacy tool for some tips!)

2. Use privacy settings

Privacy settings control what people see about you. When signing up for a new account, your kids should not automatically accept the default settings. Start with the strictest settings because you can’t take back information once it’s out there. Investigate what information is collected and if you’re not comfortable, consider using another service.

3. Be careful about sharing personal information

For a game or social media, refrain from using your real name or providing your actual birthday. For profile photos, consider using an avatar (say a cartoon character or animal) or other photo instead of a selfie. That way if the data is breached, less personal information is compromised.

4. Turn off GPS 

A mobile GPS (global positioning system) can be handy when trying to meet up with friends, but it also allows location-based services, such as Snap Map, to locate and publish information about your whereabouts. It’s also used in geo-tagging, which can be embedded in photos. Turn your geolocation off on your smartphone camera, and don’t tag or “check-in” to your locations. 

5. Be smart with passwords 

Password rule number one: never share passwords, even your phone’s lock screen. Rule number two: create a strong password, using a combination of letters, symbols and numbers. Never use personal information, don’t use real words and use a unique password for each account. (Here are some tips for managing and storing all those passwords.)

6. Protect your family’s personal network 

The next time a friend asks, “What’s the WiFi password?” share the guest account on your router. Not only are you sending the message that you take online privacy seriously, you’re keeping your sensitive information safe.

7. Be wary of public WiFi

Tweens and teens are always on the lookout for free WiFi. While convenient, many public WiFi networks aren’t encrypted, which means their information can be intercepted. There’s also the risk of phony hotspots that are set up to look legitimate (say SportSt0re versus the real SportStore). They’re actually strategies hackers use to collect information.

8. Skip the online quizzes

Do you really need to know what kind of pizza you are? Online quizzes are fun, but they can leave you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. Answers to these quizzes can be very similar to those required by legitimate institutions, such as your bank, for verification purposes. This means you may be giving away the answers to security questions by answering what seems like a fun quiz.  

The best way to control your personal information online is to keep it to yourself. Since this isn’t always practical, the next-best advice for tweens and teens is to be mindful about what they post, and to think twice about why they’re asked to share certain information. “If we can get kids to start thinking about that, then I think it’s a good starting point,” says Lochab.

Online privacy resources for parents and teens

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has great resources for parents, including:

Looking for more ways to keep your kids safe online? Read our cyberbullying guide for parents.

How to Be an Ally to Your LGBTQ2S+ Child

Your child has come out, or has let you know they’re questioning their gender or sexuality. There’s probably a lot going through your head at once: wanting to make sure your child knows you love and accept them, ensuring they’re safe and protected, or figuring out how you’re going to tell the rest of the family. A good place to start is being an ally to them and letting your child know they can trust you and come to you throughout their journey. 

Having a parent as an ally can be affirming for LGBTQ2S+ kids and teens. Here’s how parents, friends, and other family members can begin taking steps towards becoming an ally. 

What does LGBTQ2S+ mean?

“What ever happened to LGBT?,” you might be wondering. It’s true that, throughout time, the acronym for people on the queer/trans spectrum has become a bit of an alphabet soup. But this is for good reason. 

LGBTQ2S+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Two-Spirit, and more. The plus sign at the end notes that these are not all of the identities on the spectrum. 

You may see other variations of the acronym that include I for Intersex, a second Q for Questioning, A for Asexual, N for Nonbinary, and other letters (Agender, Demi-sexual, Pansexual, and other terms may be in there too). 

Each term has a long history and meaning to the people who use them. What’s important is asking your child how they identify and what that means to them. Be open to the possibility this may shift or change over time. It’s also possible your child has begun their journey, but doesn’t have the language to express themselves or doesn’t fully know how they identify. 

You can do research together, but don’t push them to choose a specific identity before they’re ready. Be willing to do your own research (Google is your friend, andasking respectful questions of LGBTQ2S+ adults who are open to helping is, too). Don’t just rely on your child to educate you. 

What does it mean to be a good LGBTQ2S+ ally?

“To be a good ally means recognizing your privilege, educating yourself, owning your mistakes without ego and being open to learning and growing, and standing up for the 2SLGBTQIA+ community,” says Kayla Christenson, Director of Communications at Pflag Canada

A good ally is someone who is open to listening, learning, and offering support. They admit when they don’t know something or are wrong about something. 

Try not to push your own understanding of things on your child. Instead, listen to what’s important to them. Being a good ally will mean making mistakes and learning from them. Allies need to understand that not all LGBTQ2S+ spaces or conversations are for them. 

Christenson also cautions against assuming someone’s gender identity or pronouns. For parents, this means asking not just your child, but other people, what their preferred pronouns are. “Give them the space to open up to you in their own time,” she adds. 

Speak up when you hear homophobic or transphobic comments in your own social circles or even in the media. Let your child know you’re there for them and won’t tolerate this sort of behaviour from others. If standing up for your child directly, make sure they want this form of support (reaching out to other parents, teachers, etc.). 

If you need support, reach out to other adults, join support groups, and do research online and through books. “Being an ally means to recognize and use the privilege you hold to better understand, empathize, and walk with those who haven’t been afforded those same privileges,” says Christenson. 

Being a good ally doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a process that takes patience and compassion. 

Why is it important to be an ally?

Approximately one million queer and trans people live in Canada, and youth (aged 15 to 24) account for over 18 per cent of this population. While Canadian youth on the queer/trans spectrum may have an easier experience than those in some other countries, it’s important to note that 25-40 per cent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ2S+. This can often result from having familial support, but also because it can be  harder to find jobs or housing as a queer or trans person. 

Mental health is also an area where LGBTQ2S+ youth struggle. LGBTQ2S+ people have higher rates of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, suicidality, and self-harm.

“Allies carry privileges that they might not be aware of,” Christenson says. Those privileges are embedded in our society and can include race, class, education, being cis-gendered, and being straight. “As an ally, parents’ voices are essential to have alongside the voices of our 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the fight for representation, advocacy, and equal rights,” she adds.  

As an ally, parents can help change the current realities for queer and trans youth. While conditions are improving, the world and institutions (such as schools, medical services) can be a harsh experience for young LGBTQ2S+ people. However, having a solid foundation at home can be a game changer. 

Read more: Financial issues that impact 2SLGBTIQ+ teens.

How parents can support their LGBTQ2S+ child

Here are some ways parents can support and champion their kids: 

Educate yourself

Don’t necessarily think of this as a daunting task; it’s something that will ultimately help you support your child, other queer and trans youth, and the community at large! Read books and media reports, watch documentaries, and listen when queer and trans people tell their stories. The more you learn on your own, the less pressure you’re likely to put on your child, and the more pressure you’ll be able to take off their shoulders. There’s lots to learn about queer and trans joy, love, healthy families, and celebration! 

Meet your kids where they are

Not every kid is going to come out in a rainbow cape, flying a flag, and fully self-assured (though some will)! If your kid is confident in their newfound identity, embrace it. If they’re taking baby steps and need a hand to hold, be there for that. Maybe your kid wants to come out at home, but not school; maybe they’re more comfortable telling their peers than their extended family—whatever the case, take their lead. 

Listen and ask questions

No one knows your kid better than they know themselves. Just like you’d want to know about a new interest, friend, or hobby, show interest in this area of their life. Hear what they have to say. Ask questions both to show interest and to find out more if you’re curious or unsure. Talk to queer or trans adults if you have any in your circles who are open to being a support system. If you need to reach out to a professional for support, there’s no shame in caring for yourself as well as your child. 

Be conscious of how you use language

This one will probably require you to think before you speak—not a bad practice in general. Don’t feel like you have to walk on eggshells, but do think about how you use language, especially gendered language. A young trans girl might no longer appreciate being included in “you guys,” for example. A teenaged boy who is gay won’t want to hear comments about a future girlfriend or wife. 

Also consider asking about new friends’ pronouns before defaulting to assumed ones. Using “they/them” pronouns when you don’t know what someone uses can be a good practice, but asking is going to get you the best results. If you mess up, apologize. Don’t make it about yourself, just correct your mistake respectfully and move on (unless the other party wants to discuss further). 

Take a stand against anti-LGBTQ2S+ behaviour

Speak up when you hear intolerant behaviour or messaging in your community or in the media. Don’t be afraid of being seen as someone who can’t take a joke when these so-called “jokes” may be hurting your child. You may start to notice homophobia and transphobia popping up all around: in schools, community, businesses, on TV and the radio. Make sure your child knows you consider this unacceptable and that you won’t stand by silently. 

Celebrate your kids

Not every kid is going to want a coming out party, but celebrate your kid in whatever ways feel best. Maybe that means taking part in programming around diverse families or gender variance at school. It could mean attending Pride as a family. It might be as small a gesture as putting a rainbow sticker in your car or home window to say “LGBTQ2S+ people are welcome here.” And if your kid is into rainbow cakes and confetti, go all out with them—they’ll remember these acts of acceptance. 

Don’t discredit them

Some parents think that queerness or transness as “just a phase.” Yet a recent study showed that 94 per cent of transgender youth still identified as transgender after a five year period. While gender and sexuality may be fluid (meaning it may shift over time), the idea that a queer or trans identity is a passing phase is insulting to your child and queer and trans people at large. Whether how your child chooses to express themselves changes, they’ll still remember your support.

Remember that representation matters 

Being inundated by heterosexuality and cisgenderism (“cis” refers to people who live as the gender they were assigned at birth) means more than you might realize. Queer and trans children and youth rarely see themselves in the media, and institutions and caregivers may often assume young people to be straight and/or cis. Lately, things are changing. Depending on the age of your kid, a show like Netflix’s Heartstopper or a movie such as Love, Simon or Crush (both on Disney+) might be appropriate. Likewise, looking for books with queer characters can make a world of difference to kids and teens

Telling other family members

Telling other family members can happen right away or slowly over time, depending on your kid’s preference and needs. Be open to the possibility that family members will need time to adjust to the news, and make it clear that you’re there to respectably discuss, but also to protect your child. 

When it comes to younger siblings, keep in mind that young people tend to be open-minded and adaptable. If your child has picked up anti-LGBTQ2S+ sentiments, walk them through the same work you’re doing: examining biases, asking questions, and being exposed to positive examples of queer and gender diverse people. In any case, telling other family members should happen if and when your child is ready, and only then. 

Resources for parents and youth 

Pflag Canada

Pflag Canada is a longstanding charitable group founded by parents to help themselves and their families accept and understand their LGBTQ2S+ children.


Egale is Canada’s leading group for LGBTQ2S+ people and issues. They work to improve the lives of 2SLGBTQI people in Canada and to enhance the global response to 2SLGBTQI issues. 

Supporting Our Youth (SOY)

Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is a program that connects and supports youth (under 29 years old) on the queer/trans spectrum through programming that includes groups and events, as well as opportunities for one-on-one support. In-person components are based in Toronto. 

Native Youth Sexual Health Network

This is an organization by and for Indigenous youth that works across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice. 

LGBT Youth Line

LGBT Youth Line is a toll-free Ontario-wide peer-support (for youth by youth) service that operates through telephone, text, or chat services.

Trans Lifeline

Trans Lifeline is a non-profit dedicated to the well-being of transgender people. The toll-free hotline is staffed by trans people for trans people.  

Small steps can make a big difference

You’re not going to become an ally overnight, but you are on your way there. Making sure your child knows they are loved, welcomed, and supported is the most important part of your work here. 

They’re still your kid, they’re just getting to know themselves better—and the good news is they trust you enough to share this part of themselves with you. Don’t feel like you need to lead here. Trust your child to set the pace of how things go, where and to whom they want to come out, and so on. 

Also trust yourself to parent with an open heart and mind. A huge part of parenting is being used to constant change, and this is no different. You’ve made it this far, and you should feel empowered moving forward as an ally to your LGBTQ2S+ child. 

How to Talk to Kids and Teens About Mental Health

As a parent, it’s hard enough to engage in meaningful conversation with your teen at the best of times, so how do you raise a topic as challenging as mental health? We spoke with Lisa Wood, Choices Program Coordinator for Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), to share her insights on how mental health impacts youth and the important role parents play. Read on as we define mental health, how to talk to your kids about it, as well as provide tips to help your kids maintain mental well-being. 

What is mental health?

With so much talk about mental health awareness, this topic surely isn’t new to today’s teens. But how much do they really understand it, and do they know how to cope if they face their own mental health struggles? 

For some kids, mental health may be synonymous with conditions such as depression or anxiety. Yet in actual fact, mental health is not simply the absence (or presence) of mental illness, it’s an important dimension of our overall well-being, along with our physical and social health. 

“Mental wellness is the ability to deal with the ups and downs of daily life while having coping strategies in place for support in times of stress,” says Lisa Wood. When you have good mental health, you feel, think, and act in ways that help you enjoy life and manage its challenges. 

Why is mental wellness important? 

If you remember your own teens years, you’ll likely recall an exciting period of personal growth and expanded responsibilities, but also uncertainty and confusion. Teens are trying to find themselves, push boundaries, fit in with friends, and determine where they belong—all of which can add stress and uncertainty. Mental wellness can help your teen navigate these challenges more confidently and safely.

“Mental wellness allows kids and teens to make positive choices, think clearly, and learn new skills which are essential during this time of growth and development,” says Lisa. She adds good mental health helps build a strong foundation for a healthy, happy, and productive life. But what can you, as a parent, do to help them along this path? 

Tips to encourage good mental health for kids and teens

While it’s not always easy to talk to your kids about their mental health, there are other ways to encourage them to maintain mental wellness.

Get enough sleep

There’s a lot written about sleep hygiene—and with good reason. Teens need eight hours of sleep per night since they’re going through a range of physical, emotional, and mental developmental changes that depend on an appropriate amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can negatively impact mood and increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Help your teen establish a daily routine that includes school, activities, and a regular sleep schedule.

Eat healthy

What we eat can influence how we feel—ever notice how sluggish you feel after some meals, yet energized after others? While there’s no need to cut out all fast food from your kid’s diet, you can help promote healthy eating by keeping fresh fruits and vegetables handy, preparing healthy dinners as a family, and even asking for help with food prep.  

Explore interests

Taking time for yourself is an essential part of self-care, even for kids and teens. Encourage your kids to explore their interests—from making music to sewing clothes, learning photography to playing basketball. Fun activities provide an opportunity to express themselves creatively, as well as offer relief from day-to-day pressures. 

Spend time with family

Teens may not always be open to hanging out with their parents, but any amount of time connecting with family is valuable. Look for any opportunity to come together—consider family dinners, playing a board game, walking the dog together, or arranging a day trip.


Even moderate exercise can boost the mood of kids and teens according to research. While some kids naturally gravitate toward extracurricular sports, for those that don’t, encourage walking or biking to and from school, or even going for a stroll around the neighbourhood (doesn’t the dog need to be walked, anyways?) 

Break from technology 

Asking your teen to turn off the smartphone may seem an impossible feat, but even teens need a break from their online activities and social media accounts. Rather than simply demanding the phone shut down for a period of time, consider setting rules around when the phone isn’t welcome, such as at the dinner table or before bedtime (bonus: this will also help them get a good night’s sleep!). 

Get involved in community

Helping others is rewarding and helps teens and kids think about others’ needs ahead of their own, as well as develop a stronger sense of gratitude. Consider volunteering as a family at a special event (versus a long-term commitment which may not appeal to your teen), or encourage your kids to get involved with a local organization that aligns with their skills or interests. 

Learn more about the best ways to teach your kids about giving

Man talks to boy on white couch about mental wellness

How to talk to your teens about mental illness 

You don’t need to wait until your teen exhibits signs of mental distress to raise the topic of mental health. In fact, the more openly you can discuss mental health now, the easier it may be for your teen to reach out when they do need help. 

“In many instances, kids and teens know that they need help,” says Lisa. “But when they reach out to adults in their circle, sometimes they are disregarded, or their problems minimized.” She advises parents to recognize that although an issue might not seem monumental to you, it’s important to your teen. Be a patient and active listener, without judgment. 

Read more: How to be an ally to your LGBTQ2S+ child.

Youth mental health resources in Canada 

If you or your teen need extra support, there are a range of excellent resources available across Canada, many of which provide in-person or virtual services and programs, in addition to helpful online content.

Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone offers mental health services for kids, teens, and youth from across Canada. Kids can call toll-free 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868 to chat with a real person. Visit its website for advice, tools, and games to help with feelings of sadness, practicing mindfulness, and venting through music. 


This organization provides free, confidential support for post-secondary students in Ontario and Nova Scotia. 

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

Canada’s most established community mental health organization is located in more than 330 communities nation-wide. It provides advocacy, programs and resources that help prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience. Reach out to your local CMHA for information on its youth programs. 


This charity trains and empowers young leaders to revolutionize mental health in every province and territory. Through its globally-recognized programs, young leaders identify and dismantle barriers to positive mental health in their communities.

Strongest Families Institute

SFI offers evidence-based, bilingual mental health services for children, teens, adults, and their families through established programs. Age-based programs are available starting from the age of three years old. 

Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC)

This community-based, youth-led charitable non-profit organization focuses on youth, family and community engagement for mental health education, support, advocacy, and change.

Anxiety Canada

Visit this organization for resources and programs to help people better understand and manage anxiety—and find the relief they need.


MindYourMind works with people aged 14 to 29 to co-create interactive tools and innovative resources that build resilience through its Design Studio model, in which young people brainstorm, design, and develop projects. 

Parents play a crucial role in youth mental health

The teen years are thrilling, but also fraught with stress and confusion for a myriad of reasons—from finances to grades to fitting in with peers. As a parent, you play an important role in helping them manage those difficult emotions and situations as they arise. 

“With your support, listening, and positive role modeling, you can help ensure the mental wellness of your kids and teens,” says Lisa. “We are not meant to do life alone.” 

Download the Mydoh app to help your kids and teens build confidence to manage their money and grow to become financially independent. 

The Parent’s Guide to Teaching Kids About Inflation

Are you noticing your budget doesn’t cover quite as much as it used to? From groceries to used cars, rising prices are evident just about everywhere we shop. With inflation in Canada the highest it’s been in more than three decades, it’s no surprise this is the new buzz word—across headlines and households. 

As parents, you may be adjusting the family budget, finding ways to save money on groceries, and teaching your kids how to save money. You may also find you’re saying no more frequently to your kids’ requests for new things, so why not take this opportunity to explain inflation to your kids and teens? Understanding inflation will expand your kids’ money smarts and provide context for today’s rising prices and the challenges they present.

In this article, we offer an explanation of inflation, how it’s measured, the causes and effects of inflation, and its potential impact on Canadian families. Here’s how to explain inflation to a child.

What is inflation?

Inflation is when the prices for goods and services rise, and purchasing power goes down. Simply put, everything becomes more expensive and people have to spend more money to buy the same amount of goods and services. 

Consider that a Big Mac cost $2.85 CAD in 2000, yet today it costs about $5.79— that’s more than double in a little over two decades. Your kid could have bought two burgers then, for the amount they pay for one burger now. 

An infographic explaining inflation for kids, using the Big Mac Index to show how prices have risen from 2000 to 2022

Is inflation good or bad?

It makes sense to think inflation is bad. It lowers the purchasing power of our money and makes it tougher to buy the things we want and need with our earnings. However, inflation can be good, as well. A stable low rate of inflation encourages spending, investing, and growth in the economy. 

Is there a “good” inflation rate?

Believe it, or not, there is an ideal inflation rate in Canada. The Bank of Canada (BoC) has calculated that rate to be two per cent. The BoC’s strategy to maintain this rate is called inflation targeting. It was introduced in 1991 as a way to manage high inflation in the 1970s and ‘80s, and continues today.

Based on the ideal inflation rate, you can expect prices in Canada to increase by about two per cent every year. If a pair of sneakers cost $100 CAD this year, and inflation is two per cent, the same pair of sneakers will cost $102 next year. 

When inflation is steady and predictable, it’s easier to budget. You know with relative certainty that prices won’t change drastically and your purchasing power will not unexpectedly drop. 

If your kids are saving up for a special item, ask them to predict its cost a year from now based on a two per cent inflation rate. How about at five per cent? If they knew the price would go up even more, how would they react? Would they buy it sooner if they could? These are some of the issues families deal with when inflation rises faster than expected, such as what’s happening now with the inflation rate around 5.7 per cent.

What is hyperinflation?

Inflation increasing at a rapid out-of-control pace is called hyperinflation. Although rare, hyperinflation has occurred throughout history. The worst case was in 1946 Hungary when the daily inflation rate was 195 per cent and prices doubled almost every 16 hours! 

If that were to happen today, it would mean an ice cream cone that costs two dollars today, would cost four dollars tomorrow, and eight dollars the day after that. Luckily for Canadians, hyperinflation is not likely to occur. In fact, the highest rate of inflation ever recorded in Canada was over a century ago when prices climbed 19 per cent in a single year in 1917.

What is stagflation?

What happens when you combine a stagnant economy and inflation? You get stagflation. This means even though people are earning less money (due to a stagnant, slow-growing economy), they’re paying more for everything from soda to sneakers. 

Typically, prices don’t increase when incomes go down since the demand for goods also tends to decline, which makes stagflation a bit unusual and hard to address. However stagflation can occur, as it did in the 1970s, impacting many countries including Canada. 

Blocks changing from inflation to deflation

What is deflation?

With all this talk about rising prices, did you know prices can also decline? This is called deflation. Although it may sound like a good thing, a major decrease in prices can be harmful to the economy. As prices drop, profits decrease which can lead to lower incomes and fewer jobs. Although rare, it happened in Canada during the Great Depression when prices fell 25 per cent from 1930 to 1933.

Learn more: The parents’ guide to talking to kids about a recession.

How Canada measures inflation

The Bank of Canada wants to prevent sudden rises in inflation. To do this, it keeps a close eye on the price of goods and services that Canadians buy with what’s called the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is based on a virtual basket filled with hundreds of goods and services that Canadians buy. Every month, the CPI adds up the total cost of the basket’s contents and tracks the month-to-month change in prices. The percentage change in the CPI is a measure of inflation.

If your family spent $100 CAD on pizza delivery, books, and sweatpants one month and, a year later, spent $110 on the same goods, the inflation rate would equal 10 per cent. Your kids can check out the Bank of Canada inflation calculator to calculate how much the value of a dollar has changed over time from as far back as 1914!

Because what Canadians bought ten, twenty, or thirty years ago isn’t the same as what Canadians buy today, the basket is reviewed annually to reflect purchasing habits. It recently added gaming consoles, food and restaurant delivery charges, and hand sanitizer to the basket.  

What causes inflation? 

While there are many causes of inflation, they can generally be divided into two main categories: demand-pull inflation and cost-push inflation.

Cost-push inflation

When costs rise from cost-push inflation, it’s driven by the supply side. The price of goods increases because they cost more to produce. There are various reasons why this could happen, such as a rise in the cost of raw materials, higher labour costs, or unforeseen circumstances that disrupt production, such as a flood or a pandemic, like COVID-19.

Production of many goods slowed during the pandemic because of delays in transportation, as well as labour shortages due to people getting sick from COVID-19. These are both examples of cost-push inflation because a shortage in goods drives prices up. At one point, there was even a chicken wing shortage that drove the price of wings up by 14 per cent. 

Demand-pull inflation

When prices increase because of demand-pull inflation, it’s driven by consumers. Simply put, people are buying more stuff. Often this is because the economy is healthy, incomes are rising, and we can afford more things—take out dinners, trendy clothes, the latest smartphone. With people demanding more and more of the same stuff, the supply can’t keep up and prices rise.

During COVID-19, demand for goods and services increased as lockdowns eased and people wanted to pay for more things, like eating out or travelling, that they couldn’t enjoy during the height of the pandemic. These are examples of demand-pull inflation. 

What are the effects of high inflation?

When the inflation rate rises a lot higher than expected, it impacts households in various ways. Here are some of the ways inflation may be affecting your household that you can share with your kids: 

A family, impacted by rising food prices, unpacking groceries together

Stuff is more expensive

When your income stays the same as prices rise, it’s like you’re being paid less. Your usual expenses are less affordable, so even simple trips to the grocery store will cost more for the same products. Your kids may have noticed the prices of some of their favourite items have gone up—from purses to smart watches to potato chips. (Your kids may soon be asking for a higher allowance amount). 

Spending habits change

If you have the same amount of money coming in, but your costs are going up, it makes sense to adjust spending habits. Some of the ways people cut costs include: 

  • Switching to lower priced brands
  • Going out for dinner less often
  • Shopping at discount grocery stores
  • Postponing big purchases

Harder to budget

Creating and sticking to a budget can be harder when inflation rises faster than expected. If your teen is saving for college or university, the goal is based on an expectation of what the cost will be when they graduate high school. But what happens if tuition rises higher than expected in that time frame? Your kid may have to rethink how much money to save.

Read more about budgeting for kids and teens

Conserve more

With a tighter budget, it becomes more important to save money by conserving. Your family may work harder to limit waste in food, energy, or fuel. The good news is these efforts can also benefit the environment, which may help motivate your kids to eat leftovers or to turn off the lights before leaving a room. 

Read more: 10 tips to thrift like a pro.

Higher interest rates

One of the ways the Bank of Canada tries to bring inflation back down to two per cent is by raising interest rates. Here are a couple ways this can impact families:

Paying down debt may be more challenging

Higher interest rates may make it harder for families to pay down their debts, especially if they have mortgages or loans that suddenly require higher monthly payments than they’ve budgeted. Conversely, you’re less likely to take on additional debt as interest rates rise because it’ll take you longer to pay that debt off.

Learn more How to pay off debt fast: A guide for parents and teens.

Saving money is more attractive

Interest rates increase for savings deposits, as well. This can encourage you to save money, rather than spend it. 

Why do kids and teens need to understand inflation?

Learning about inflation can help prepare kids for making financial decisions as they enter adulthood, particularly when it’s time to make large purchases such as a car or a home. When starting a new job, they will be more likely to negotiate increases in pay to cover potential cost of living increases.

Teens and tweens who understand inflation can better comprehend the reasons behind their own family’s changes in household spending. Perhaps they’ll even be more cooperative in those efforts.

Raise money smart kids to help them stay ahead of inflation

Teaching your kids the basics of inflation can help them make sense of why their family’s savings goals and spending habits need to adjust, at times. Learning these money smart lessons will also better prepare them to confidently navigate economic challenges as they enter adulthood and reach financial independence.

The Mydoh app and Smart Cash Card provide children with the opportunity to save and earn money with a digital wallet. As a parent, you’ll be able to assign chores and allowance, and also use our oversight feature to coach, guide, or just keep an eye on your child’s spending habits.

Download the Mydoh money app today and give your kids the tools they need to navigate the world of inflation and personal finance!

The Best Ways to Teach Your Kids About Giving

Is it really better to give than to receive? Science says yes.

Teaching kids to value generosity and charity is as important as teaching them to eat their veggies. Giving is a healthy practise. People who give regularly report feeling significant joy and satisfaction. Research suggests that the psychological reward we get from helping others might very well be ingrained in human nature. It appears humans are givers because it’s good for us. 

You may have your favourite charities earmarked for financial donations, and that’s a great way to help others.

Why it’s important to teach kids about giving

The act of giving is rewarding to the brain and makes us feel good,” says Catherine Franssen, a neuroscientist at Longwood University and the Science Museum of Virginia. These brain connections can take time to develop, which is why kids aren’t always quite as excited about giving as receiving.

Research into the science of gratitude indicates the ability to express gratitude may improve with age and maturity. In the meantime, parents can help accelerate this understanding through teaching and modeling. Similarly, we can also teach the value of giving.

Teaching kids how to give may take practise, but the rewards are well worth it. Giving not only makes us feel good, it helps build empathy. Finding opportunities to give back creates avenues for kids and teens to build self-esteem by helping others. Also, showing kids how to allocate funds by splitting their allowance into categories, including one specifically for giving, can help develop financial literacy

How do I teach my child the importance of giving?

Make it personal. Studies have shown we are more inclined to give when we feel a connection. Dropping a few loonies in a collection tin may feel arbitrary to a child unable to visualize helping someone “out there.” So, describe who might be benefiting from their donation. If the charity supports children in need, explain how a few extra dollars might help a child their age buy a new jacket. You might say, “Can you imagine how uncomfortable it would be to go outside for recess on a cold day without a warm coat?” Having your child see themselves reflected in others helps make their efforts feel relatable and important. 

Show your child a photo or video of a person their donation might be helping. Looking at someone’s face builds social connection. If possible, share the recipient’s situation and provide a back story. When we can relate to others on a personal level, we are naturally inclined to want to help.

Be a role model

Children are born observers. Show them what it looks like to give and it’s likely they’ll do the same. Ontario mom of two, Sharon Devellis, says her boys have seen her volunteering and doing various acts of service since they were little. Sharon has taught her kids by doing—from organizing “food trains” for families in need in their community to volunteering as a speed skating coach. When her eldest son graduated from high school his volunteer hours far exceeded the required amount. He had accumulated over 250 hours by volunteering at their local Legion serving veterans. He said he didn’t do it for the hours. He did it (and continues to do so when he can) because it feels great. 

Read more about the importance of giving back to the community

Explain how their donation makes a difference

While telling your kids how their generosity might benefit others, showing them is even more effective. Watch a video of a family using the new accessibility ramp built for their child who uses a wheelchair. Show them a photo of a family’s home built using funds collected from donations. Read a note from a neighbour thanking them for shoveling their driveway. Seeing how their actions can help improve someone’s life can be very impactful.

Start small 

Your child’s first foray into giving might be as simple as donating a book to their school library or buying a cookie from a charity bake sale. No gift is too small or insignificant. When it comes to generosity, it really is the thought that counts. 

Start with small acts of service and build from there. Over time and with experience, kids may choose to increase the value and frequency of their donations. 

Let kids choose where to give

Not all giving is the same. Research shows there’s a difference between feeling obligated to give and wanting to give. Being told to donate will not elicit the warm glow associated with a sincere desire to help. 

Allow kids to choose where they would like to donate their time, donations or money. If they love dogs for example, knowing their efforts will help an animal shelter will make them feel invested in their giving. 

A “Get A Gift, Give A Gift” birthday party is a fun and effective way to teach kids about giving and receiving. Ask guests to split a birthday present into two smaller gifts—one for the host and one to donate. Alternatively, parents may appreciate the suggestion of a small cash gift (one less errand for parents is always a win). A twenty dollar gift for example, can be split into two ten dollar gifts. The host can save or spend half. The other half of the gifted cash will be donated. To help make the experience more concrete, write a cheque for your child to hand deliver to their chosen charity. 

Give as a family

As the old adage goes, “Families who give together, grow together.” Okay, maybe that isn’t an adage, but it should be. Families who prioritize giving back help teach their children that generosity is important. Sharon Devellis and her family do an annual spring declutter. Each family member chooses clothing, tech, books and other gently used items to pass along to those who can use them. “We don’t just dump them off in one location.” Devellis says.” We carefully choose where to donate to make sure items get to those who need them most.” 

Choose an organization or charity to support together. You might sponsor a family over the holidays or “adopt” an endangered animal. Each family member can contribute what they can to a one-time or even a monthly donation.

Not all families are in the position to be able to give financially. But all families have a valuable and renewable resource—themselves. Seek out opportunities where the whole family can give together. Participate in a fun run to raise money for a cause or organize a food drive. There are all kinds of ways families can work together to give to others. Bonus? Spending time together as a family. 

How to find which charity to support 

Encourage kids to choose a charity that aligns with their values and life experience. If your child is passionate about sports, support organizations that make sports accessible to youth who may not otherwise be able to participate due to economic or physical barriers. 

It’s a great idea to volunteer first to learn more (if possible) about a charity. By volunteering, not only will you be helping out, you’ll get an up close view of how the charity operates and learn whether it’s a cause worthy of your time and money. 

If you have questions about a charity and how they help, do a little due diligence. Start by simply having a look around their website. Then do a Google search to see what people are saying about the charity online and on social media. 

Not sure where to donate? Canada Helps is an excellent place to look for a charitable organization in your area. Also, consider donating to a registered charity so you can claim it on your tax return

The physical and psychological benefits we experience when we give have lingering impacts on the brain. The happy feeling we get from doing an act of service can continue to have positive effects on our brain well after the initial release of endorphins. Giving is the gift that keeps on giving. 

Continue to actively teach your kids about the value of giving by using Mydoh, so they can learn how to manage their finances and give when they can.

Download Mydoh and help build the foundation of financial literacy for your kids and teenagers.

Prom Budgeting Tips and Ideas for Teens

Prom entered the pop culture psyche in the ‘80s with movies like Pretty in Pink, and hasn’t stopped captivating the teen imagination since. With more recent cult classics like Mean Girls and The Prom, the idea of getting ready for that big dance—and the rituals that come with it—still gets us excited. 

The temptation for teenagers to go all out for an IRL prom can be intense—and pricey. Fortunately, making prom fun for teens doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Read on for ideas on how to set a budget for prom to avoid racking up debt.  

What is prom, and why is it important to teens?

While separate from an official graduation ceremony, prom typically marks the end of high school. Unlike grad, a prom is usually planned by the students themselves with some help from the school administration. Teenagers often mark the milestone of graduating high school by attending the formal dance dressed in evening wear, such as a suit and tie or gown. Other rituals may include bringing a date or going as a big group of friends, renting transportation and even a hotel room for an after party. In Canada, prom season tends to be April through June.

The lexicon has evolved to include #prahm and “promposal,” (more on promposals later), but the root motivation is the same: prom is a big celebratory event that teens get to have with their peers and dance away the stress of four years of high school.

What is a good budget for prom?

With social media platforms sharing prom content from all over the world, Canadian teens might be tempted to spend a fortune this prom season. The average Canadian prom spend can start around $300 and quickly tip into the thousands. Not sure what a good prom budget entails? 

Here’s a breakdown of prom expenses:

Row of colourful prom dresses

Buy or rent prom attire: $100–$500

The desire to buy a stunning ball gown or stylish suit is a fun part of planning for prom, but can get expensive quickly. To keep costs down, consider researching formal wear rentals which are typically 10 to 15 per cent of the purchase price. Second-hand options can also significantly decrease the cost. Don’t forget that shoes and accessories quickly add up, as well.

Learn more: 10 Tips to Thrift Like a Pro

Hair and makeup $50–$300 

Professional hair and makeup can be a real treat but also quite costly. A visit to the hair salon for a cut and colour can easily cost more than $100. Professional makeup application starts around $75 in a makeup salon to over $150 for a makeup artist to come to your home. A simple manicure is $20 and up, with custom nail art designs starting at around $50.

Flowers $20–$100 

Wrist corsages bought for those wearing dresses and boutonnieres for those in suits are an important part of the prom tradition, but can get costly for something that’s not reusable. Depending on the types of fresh flowers chosen, wrist corsages start at approximately $30 and boutonnieres at $15. Flower crowns have grown in popularity as accessories and start at $50, and a dozen long-stem red roses to gift your date will cost from $80.

Limousine $80–$300

Limousine rentals start at around $80 per hour, and often need to be rented for a minimum number of hours. 

Hotel $150–$300

If you didn’t already know, after the prom comes the after-party which can significantly increase prom night expenses. During prom season (April-June) pre-Covid, the average Canadian hotel room costs approximately $160, but like most things inflation has driven prices up. A 5-star hotel suite can cost much more. Add up expenses such as parking and room service and costs really add up.

How to create a budget for prom

Parents and teens should agree on a reasonable budget for prom. Prioritize what matters most to ensure a memorable event. This is the time to separate the wants from the needs.

A good place to start is to write down everything you want included in your prom. Then separate the must-haves from the nice-to-haves. Once the list is complete, assign a dollar amount to each. Now it’s time to create a budget.  Together, parents and teens should consider:

  • What can you realistically afford? 
  • Have you saved up? 
  • If you need to put your prom spending on credit or use Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) programs, do you have a plan for paying it back? 
  • What items can you live without? (Is that spray-tan really necessary?) 
  • Determine how expenses might be divided between parent and teen.

Read more about Budgeting 101 for teens

While the realities of prom budgeting may be frustrating, it also offers the opportunity to be more creative. Approach the prom budget with a sense of adventure, rather than disappointment, to keep the experience exciting. We have some ideas to help make prom fun and memorable no matter how tight the budget.

Tip: Teens can use our free savings goal calculator to help budget for the their prom!

Someone making their own corsage for prom

Seven tips to save money on pro

1. Skip the “promposal”

What happens when you combine prom with proposal? A promposal. “Will you go to prom with me?” requires more than simply popping the question for many teens. From asking on a jumbo screen during a baseball game, to an adorable pun written on a poster board (“Let’s taco ‘bout prom!”), the methods vary widely. Some teens are motivated to create a “post-able” moment on social media, which can up the pressure. 

For many “promposal” is a must, not a maybe. Thankfully there are inexpensive options to make the moment special. Get creative with ideas such as creating a TikTok video for your soon-to-be prom date, or tempt your date with sweets by baking a cake iced with the word “Prom?”.

2. Save on prom clothes and accessories

How can you get the “look” on a budget? Second-hand marketplaces like Kijiji, Poshmark and Facebook Marketplace may have great deals on formal wear only worn once (if you’re lucky, still with the tags). Visit consignment stores for vintage and second-hand designer clothes, jewellery, shoes, and accessories. 

Another option is to rent a gown or tuxedo which can be 80 to 90 per cent less than purchasing. With many luxe rental shops popping up across Canada that ship, it’s easier than ever to look great at a discount.

You might even find something in a family member’s closet that you can repurpose or modify (think about Molly Ringwald’s character, Andy, in the aforementioned Pretty in Pink) to make a one-of-a-kind look that no one else will have. 

3. DIY corsage

In lieu of a florist-designed bouquet, corsage, flower crown or boutonniere, crafty DIY-ers can create something unique with wildflowers from a family garden, synthetic flowers from the craft store, or even with recycled materials, like craft paper, fabric and ribbon scraps. Look for inspiration on Etsy and YouTube to make something truly special.

4. DIY hair and makeup 

The simplest way to save costs on hair and makeup is to do it yourself. To learn how, watch hair and makeup tutorials on YouTube or TikTok. Practice beforehand by yourself, or with a friend, to get it right for the big day. 

If DIY isn’t an option, there are ways to save on hairstylists, too. Booking a junior stylist who is up-to-date on the latest trends may save costs on haircuts, colour, or updos. Beauty schools also may offer reduced rates for hair services.

Rather than hire a makeup artist, consider visiting  the makeup counter at a local department store for a sample makeup appointment—another cost-saving idea.  

For nails, a home manicure is always the least expensive route. If fancy nail art is a must-have, consider temporary press-on-nails or stickers you can buy at a drugstore or beauty department. If a self-tanner is necessary, read reviews online for the best product options, and keep an eye out for sales or opportunities to use loyalty points to help save the cost of a pricey spray tan in a salon.

Two teen girls looking in a mirror applying makeup for prom

5. Sleep on the hotel option

If a hotel is a must, check discount hotel and travel sites for potential savings. Better yet, host an after-party at home. Weather permitting, you might even coordinate with friends to host an outdoor event, complete with tents

6. Make your own prom decorations

Video tutorials and Pinterest can provide inspiration for an at-home after party. Ask friends or family to help create a balloon arch or photo station with fun signs and props. Source your contacts for outdoor patio lighting, umbrellas, and chairs.

To cut back on so much DIY, consider browsing Etsy for affordable, print-at-home options for buntings and banners, signage, invites, table cards, drink labels, and more. 

7. Park the limo

With so many car rental options now available, there’s no need to rely exclusively on the traditional, and expensive, limousine. Consider a car service like Uber for more formal outings. Another option is to split the cost of a nicer rental car with friends and ask a parent or responsible adult to drive. 

Environmentally friendly options include lighting up bikes with glow-in-the-dark accessories for a group ride, or create a prom parade and walk as a group. For longer distances, you can take public transit as a group to the prom.

How Mydoh can help you earn and save money for prom

Prom is meant to be a fun, carefree experience that creates lifelong memories for teens. With a bit of prudence and an appetite for innovation and breaking the status quo, teens can have their dream prom without overspending. 

From saving up their allowance from chores to learning to budget, Mydoh provides parents and teens a way to master financial literacy skills together. Whether it’s saving for prom night, or to buy a car, Mydoh helps teens learn smart saving and spending habits to build financial independence. 

Download Mydoh to make it easy for your teen to learn money basics, earn their own cash through tasks, and spend it wisely, too.