Teaching e-Safety: What Students Want to Know

Children Textinge-Safety is such a huge topic it can sometimes be frustrating thinking what to plan for and what to teach.  It’s easy (and completely understandable) to pick out a couple of videos off the internet and use those, but you can only watch and tell the children so much before they become bored and disinterested.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that it’s important we ask the children, which is what I did last week.  The purpose of the discussions with the students was to pre-empt a larger project for Safer Internet Day 2016, and you can see what we’ll be doing HERE.

The purpose of this blog is to show you the results of a number of talks with children from Years 6 through 11 in regards to what they would like to know.  The total number of children was over 60; there’s nothing scientific in these findings, it was just a series of very open and engaging discussions where they were asked what worries them online and what they would like to be taught.  I’ve previously shared a video with key findings (see below) and these next bullet points summarise quite nicely what the students were saying.

I’ve loosely split the findings into the 3 commonly accepted risk categories of Content, Contact and Conduct:


Inappropriate language and other content

Annoying popups

Where is your data and who can see it

Understanding terms and conditions

What are viruses, how do they work?

Phishing attacks

Tools to use in order to prevent some of this content.


Security and privacy.

Some of the students commented that apps should default to ‘private’ rather than ‘public’ upon installation, or at the very least should give you the option as part of the installation or account setup process.

One student suggested that as an account holder, there could be a way in which you can be identified as a trusted person, for example that your age and the fact that you’re a real person had been verified.  Furthermore when you have been contacted by someone you don’t know you can check on that person utilising some of the functionality within the service provider’s API – that young man is going places!!

Critical thinking about who is contacting you and why.

They want to be shown (not told) how to be careful using services such as social media.  This would fit in line with the first point (security and privacy) and also mechanisms such as blocking and reporting.

How do you know if an account is fake or real (critical thinking again)?

Not all strangers are dangerous, there has to be a level of trust.

An interesting point; strangers are just people you don’t know and this fits in with point 2 (critical thinking). If we continually tell children not to talk to strangers, at what point do we tell them it’s okay to talk to strangers?


Hackers/hackingBullying and trolling.

Cyberbullying taught from a young age – coping mechanisms, what to do etc.

What is morally right/wrong, not just what is legal/illegal.


Interestingly, there were a couple of key points that came out of the discussions that reflected across all of the above points:

Show not tell.  We need to be shown what to do or not do using real-life scenarios.  Just telling us rarely helps.

To be able to understand more, we need to know how all this works.

A very interesting point this one.  As a driver you don’t need to know the internal workings of a 4-stroke combustion engine, but you do need to know how all the parts (steering, brakes, clutch, indicators etc.) operate together in order to drive properly.  How many of your students know the difference between the internet and the world wide web?  How is it that all social media and many apps are free? and so much more…..

So there we go, a very brief (but thoughtful) insight into the views of the students that I hope may give you some ideas for your classroom.