Youth & Digital Technology: Growing Up Online Toolkit

Information for Service Providers

youth online at home alone

At times digital technology may be problematic for children, youth or their families. The Growing Up Online Toolkit provides information and resources such as digital technology screening and assessment tools, for service providers to support children, youth, and families.

For information for children, youth, parents, and caregivers, visit's Growing Up Online.

Process Addiction

Addiction research has traditionally focused on substance use disorders. Non-substance related concerns, such as behavioural or process addictions, are less commonly understood, especially in children and youth.

Since digital technology plays such a prominent role in the daily life of children and youth, it is important to be aware of what they are doing online. Service providers and families need to understand that excessive time spent interfacing with technology may have a negative impact on young people.

Problematic Use of Digital Technology

Problematic use of digital technology is defined as any digital activity that causes significant distress to emotional and physical well-being, and which has a negative impact on day-to-day life.

Screening and Assessment Tools

Youth Voices

To develop the Growing Up Online Toolkit, people in various AHS programs, service providers, and youth were consulted. Additionally, Child, Youth & Family Initiatives (CYFI) consulted with several youth, as the inclusion of youth voices is fundamental to the development of services for children, youth, and their families.

Service Provider Resources

The following general resources include recommended internet resources, recreational activities, screening and assessment tools, and a comprehensive list of terms with explanations that service providers.


Substance use has held a monopoly on addictive disorders research when compared to non-substance use. Non-substance related concerns, such as process addictions, are less commonly understood, especially with regard to child and youth populations. The mental health community continues to debate what constitutes normal, problematic or pathological use of digital technology. This toolkit provides context into patterns of use amongst youth that warrant further attention and intervention.

Digital technology use by children and youth has been associated with:

  • Health concerns, such as decreased physical activity, an increased risk of obesity and challenges with sleep.
  • Cognitive and behavioural effects, such as procrastination, distraction and poor time management that interferes with academic achievement.
  • Conflict and unhealthy relationships with friends and family
  • Negative effects on relationships; for example, if private information is disclosed on profiles, resulting in jealousy and suspicion.

Online Toolkit Topics

Language and trends, identified by the World Health Organization, offer service providers relevant and practical information in the areas of:

English & French Versions

In partnership with the Francophone community, the need to translate the toolkit in French was identified.

Quick Reference


The following poster provides a succinct and clear summary of the toolkit:

Special Considerations

While this toolkit was being developed, several related topics emerged as additional areas of interest and relevance to the problematic use of digital technology in children and youth. These include cultural issues, LGBTQ+ community, self-harm, and suicide online.

Contact Us

For more information about the detailed English and French versions of the Growing Up Online Toolkit, email