How to engage young people when teaching online safety

03 Feb 2017 Becca Cawthorne

With Safer Internet Day 2017 around the corner, Ellie Proffitt from Childnet International offers her advice for teachers wanting to engage young people in online safety.

Schools and colleges have a duty to teach young people about online safety, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring! For a lot of children and young people, using the internet is one of their favourite activities. This excitement is something to be encouraged, and used as the stepping stone to delivering the messages around using it safely and positively.

Below we have collected some of our top tips on how to make e-safety learning engaging and inspiring.

Design resources:

Appeal to your students creative sides, by asking them to design posters, produce filmscreate a quiz or host a podcast to educate others about online safety. There are lots of fantastic apps and programs out there to help them produce a variety of resources. Take a look at our Film Competition winners for some ideas, and perhaps you’ll be inspired to enter your school this summer!


Your students could write newsletter articles or update your school blog about online safety issues. If your school has any social media profiles, these can also be used to share any resources your students produce. Be sure to follow your school’s policy when sharing anything online.

Cross curricular:

Online safety issues can fall into many different categories, from PSHE and citizenship, to the law and human rights. Consider other subject areas where online safety can be taught. For example, if you are teaching Art and using the internet to search for images, it would be a perfect time to discuss how to search safely, use key words, and set filters.

Discussion and involvement:

The internet affects everyone, and is often a factor in news stories and the media. You could set aside a regular time each week to discuss current affairs involving the internet and create a culture of open dialogue within your classroom. By encouraging students to apply their online safety knowledge to real life, you can show how much of an important topic it is.

Peer to peer mentoring:

By using a flipped learning approach, young people are able to share their knowledge with their peers and take ownership of the online safety messages that are so important. Students might like to present assemblies to their school or parents, deliver a workshop for younger students, or run weekly drop-in sessions. The Childnet Digital Leaders programme offers structured training that empowers young people to champion digital citizenship in their school.

Use a range of activities:

There are lot of online safety learning resources out there. See the Safer Internet Day archive for all the previous year’s education packs, and check out our Online Safety in the Computing Curriculum guide for signposts to further resources, tailored to each Key Stage.

By taking on board the views of the students you work with, and encouraging discussion and involvement, you can deliver engaging online safety lesson that will inspire all young people to use the internet in a safe and positive way.

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