Security/safety when online

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Objectives The main objective of this chapter is to promote reflection and capacity building among the educational community on the need to understand how children and youths use the Internet. What are the main online risks and threats to them and how to build prevention strategies into the school context. Being aware of the different devices they use and getting familiar with the main apps and Web 2.0 applications and services will help us face this challenge.

Our approach is mainly addressable to children/youth aged 8-16, although applicable up to 18.

In particular, we will reflect upon:

  • how and why students use the Internet and the reasons why it is so captivating for them.
  • an overall idea of existing online risks and threats, especially the most frequent and important ones.
  • the role of the educator accounting for risk-taking behaviours by students and the need of establishing prevention strategies and actions.
  • awareness and assistance resources such as helplines and reporting-lines.


We have organized the contents within this chapter into 4 different topics:

  1. Topic 1: How minors use the social web. Some data, analysis and reflections.
  2. Topic 2: Matrix of risks and threats.
  3. Topic 3: Prevention actions. The role of educators..
  4. Topic 4: Prevention resources and tools.


Topic 1: How minors use the social web. Some data, analysis and reflections

  • Basic knowledge: knowing and understanding how students use the Internet
  • Objective Pursued: Know and understand how and why students use the Internet and the reasons why it is so captivating for them.

1: Privacy is the key concept users should be aware of and minors need to be educated on it from an early age. Furthermore, this concept is associated with two others: digital identity and online reputation.

  • Digital Identity
Suma en.jpg
Set of information about an individual or an organization exposed on the Internet (personal data, pictures, registers, news, reviews ...) forming a description of that person in the digital level.
ICT manages to create an "expanded identity” in most users: ICT enhances their skills and allows them to be in touch with other users to maintain different levels of relationship, intimacy, commitment, etc.
Much of the net uses this in developing these capabilities and uses the advantages that encompass the idea of digital identity with different degrees of commitment or disclosure of your privacy.
  • Digital reputation
The digital reputation is the opinion or social status that other users have of the online experience of a person or an organization.
Reputation is a social construction, a product created and accumulated collectively that, inevitably, have positive or negative effects because of its public connotation. It is also clear that, because this concept is built around the perceptions of others, our reputation is not under absolute control, not always nor entirely; although you can manage it, insofar contributing to build suitably those perceptions of individual and collective opinion by means of relevant facts.
You can see an example watching this video:
Digital reputation

2: What do students do when they are online? To start with, here it is a summary:

3: Where do children use the internet?

% of children who say they use the internet at the following locations
% Own bedroom at home vs. % At home but not in own bedroom
  • Half (49%) of all children who use the internet use it in their bedroom or other private room at home.
  • 62% use it in the living room or other public room at home.
  • Overall, 87% use it at home - 49% in their bedroom, 38% elsewhere only at home
  • Two implications stand out. First, in addition to addressing children themselves, raising safety awareness among parents may be the best way of reaching the largest proportion of children. Second, many children are now using the internet in a location where it is difficult for parents to share or monitor.
  • The second most common location, after the 87% who use it at home, is use of the internet at school or college (63%).
  • This makes the school an important site for internet guidance and advice from teachers. But it is noteworthy that, although most schools in Europe now have internet access somewhere on the premises, over a third of 9-16 year olds do not use the internet at school and so may not be reached by such a policy.
  • Home and school account for a large proportion of children’s reported average of three locations for going online. Other common locations include use of the internet at a friend’s house, reported by half of the sample (53%), and at a relative’s house (42%).
  • Less common is the use of the internet in public places, with 12% using it in an internet café, 12% in a public library or other public place and 9% using it generally when ‘out and about’

4: How students access the internet

Devices through which children access the internet
  • Most (58%) children still access the internet via a shared personal computer (PC), although
  • access via their own PC is next most common (35%).
  • Nearly one third (32%) go online through their television set,
  • around another third do so via a mobile phone (31%),
  • and a quarter access the internet via a games console (26%).

Given that computer access has long predominated, these other options have clearly been taken up in recent years

  • About a quarter go online using a personal laptop (24%) or a shared laptop (22%), reflecting the growth in the use of laptops in general and, clearly, the greater access that children now have to them.
  • 12% go online using a handheld or portable Device (e.g. iPod Touch, iPhone or Blackberry).

5: What do you think they do online the most?

We suggest you an exercise: try to sort from 1 to 4 (from highest to lowest) the following uses that minors do on Internet.
  • Schoolwork
  • Play Online
  • View videos online
  • Access to social networks
Once you have done that, click on the link below, to access data and information with which you will surely see that there is some prejudice on this.

6: What percentage of children do you think have a social networking profile?

Before accessing the link below, try to think of it, dare to give a figure!

Topic 2: Matrix of Risks and Threats

  • Basic knowledge: Main risks and threats for minors in the use of social web devices and applications.
  • Objective Pursued: Get an overall idea of existing online risks and threats, especially the most frequent and important ones.

1: 1: Before you continue, let's pose you a question. What online risks and threats do you know?

Try making a list of the risks of which you are already aware. It will help you to see that we normally see the most striking and regrettable risk, but there are many risks that we can find in everyday life and we usually do not pay attention or do not perceive them as a threat. Not forgetting the most striking and often urgent, these are precisely in which we have a greater capacity to influence in the education with our students.

2: Half seriously, half jokingly, watch this video. Have you ever thought that this may pose a threat to young children?

The Double Check is God
Matrix of risks and threats
Base: 5,033 girls and 4,603 boys who mentioned at least one risk (first-mentioned risks only)
Base: 9 - 16 year old who mentioned a platform when describing online risks
Base: 9 - 16 year olds who mentioned a platform when describing online risks

3: Located on a double axis, which in the north we have Content related; in the south Contact Related; in the east Threats resulting from the conduct of others and in the west, TThreats resulting from own conduct; we obtain the following matrix of risks and threats which offers a very approximate global map.

And if you have any doubts about the meaning of some items, here's a little glossary:

4: What are the risks related to gender?

  • Boys are more concerned about the violent content (including explicit violence, the aggressive behaviors and gore content) than girls (21% vs 16%)
  • Girls are more concerned than boys about the risks associated with the contact (17% vs. 10%) and the risks related to the behavior (20% vs. 18%)
  • No gender difference in risk perception regarding pornography: 22% of boys and girls mention them as a risk.

5:What is the perception of risk or threat from minors?

  • At the same time that boys and girls grow, so grows their Internet experience and their ways of interacting within it, and risks evolve significantly. At 9 years children are less likely (or perceptible) to discuss the risks that bother them (24% ), rising to 45% when 16 years old.
  • The mention of the risks in children increases significantly between 9 and 12 years old. Possibly, this group of young people are accessing new activities, testing new freedoms and acquiring new skills faster than the evolution of their maturity level allows them to cope.
  • It is also important to remark that the risk mentioning percentages are higher for girls than for boys. From the early years of adolescence, girls are more likely than boys, to perceive online risks, that generate in them concerns.
  • In general, boys mention more concern about violence, girls are more susceptible to the risks of contact and behavior.

6:Does the risk perception changes depending on the Social Media service?

  • The risks associated with video sharing websites (eg YouTube), most are due to violence (30%) and pornography (27%), the risks for the content reaches 30%.
  • The risks associated with the social networks (eg Facebook), however, most are associated with behavioral risk (48%) and the contact (30%).


Approaches to used and actions to be taken in the context of school

Topic 3: Prevention actions. The role of educators

  • Basic knowledge: Preventive actions. The role of the educator.
  • Objective Pursued: Reflect on the role of the educator accounting for risk-taking behaviours by students and the need of establishing prevention strategies and actions.

1: What things can we do at school?

What do we mean when we speak of minors and risks.jpg
What role for educators.jpg
What kind of actions could we undertake.jpg
5 action strategies at the school.jpg
10 advices for parents.jpg
We should start from the premise that the Internet has become an indispensable part of life for children and youth, technologies are here to stay and our children are born with them and no longer think of the relationship between them and the world, without them.
For the first time in history, there is a paradox that the younger generation is more skilled than their teachers on a topic of global reach. Them, the digital natives have a greater working knowledge of the Internet and the technologies. However, their teachers and parents are making an effort to become digital immigrants.
But not everything is so easy, despite technological advances, the weaknesses of childhood and adolescence are still there, the threats that can compromise its harmonious and happy development remain the same, but those have found in ICT and social networks a new way to materialize.
It is not to invent new mechanisms for the education of children, but to make evolve what we already have and use every day in the classroom to the new challenge of social media and its services and applications.
We should also run away from an analysis exclusively negative: "internet is bad". It doesn't work to educate new generations, among other things, because that's not true and they know it very well.
As we saw in the previous topics, the desire to explore and stress the limits are too attractive to force them to not explore this new world. However, reality shows that, in such things and others, as always, children and youth need our support and assistance to be able to develop their digital literacy and they grow as persons.

2: Which is the role of the teacher or educator?

From our position of educators who are usually in contact with minors and ICT, we are in a privileged position to act as a "facilitator" of preventing risks and offering risk awareness processes that children and youths are potentially exposed to in their internet activities, especially in social networks.
We talk about "facilitate" not to "solve" problems. We either talk about acting as educators or as "superman". Let's take off this pressure and let's review realistically which are our skills and capabilities. And using common sense, act from them.
From our professional role we can develop 3 functionalities:
  • Accompaniment of students when they are in contact with Internet and social networks, "be with them" creating spaces for dialogue and reflection that enable them to become aware of their vulnerability and the need to prevent behaviors that threaten their personal integrity.
  • Training. The educator provides to students some skills of self-protection with which they will be able to make a proper use of social web tools. We also help them to develop skills of critical thinking about uses and how to act. In addition, educators provide to parents training, information and expertise on the tools that students use; coordinating mechanisms for the monitoring and analysis of the activities performed by their children on the Internet.
  • Create Spaces of trust for students and their environment. The telecentre, library, school, leisure center ... can be articulated as spaces to develop initiatives that reinforce safe and rational behavior on the Internet, by promoting discussions, workshops and spaces where they can exercise effective preventive actions. Likewise, these institutions are excellent spaces to detect risky situations, acting as facilitators of solutions, dealing with cases if the educator has the necessary skills, or redirecting solutions to relevant agencies and professionals, especially in severe cases.

3: Which actions can we undertake from the school?

From these three features that draw our role, we focus on three aspects of performance, all of them understood as a whole:
Addressing risky situations: In our daily activities it remains receptive the detection of potential risks, allowing us to mobilize if they appear, for example:
  • Establishing mechanisms for monitoring and detection of situations and behaviors that potentially pose a risk to the minor.
  • Once detected the existence of minor at risk, our obligation is to act by modulating this performance depending on our ability and role. If we act as facilitators, the approach must involve the generation of bridges, spaces of trust where we can develop lines of dialogue with the child concerned.
  • Our position on the front line is a privileged position to detect and organize of the first steps, however we must be extremely cautious in these first moments as we can get results completely contrary to the desired approach. At times, the recommended way to approach is not always the most direct: speak with the environment, with family, in school; it can help us to form a solid picture that will help to have a safer communication with the child and keep the necessary balance between the preservation of privacy and the need, sometimes urgent, to respond to the risk situation.

Acting before a risk. There are several reasons for which we must mobilize our role as educators if we detect minors affected, but they must all surely be reasons outlined by the exercise of professional responsibility. Nor should we forget to put in the other side of the scale our professional competence and exercise common sense and prudence, we must know where our limits lie:
  • Gather information, to better understand the situation and chart a course of solid action. We cannot act only by hearsay, collect information about the specific case and also on the existing information, it will allow us to better respond and, therefore, better help the student. The decision should not be based on subjective hearsay or opinions, but rather facts.
  • Know and be recognized in the student’s environment. So much for the pros and also as for the cons, the student’s environment can play a significant role in the declaration and extent of the risk (for example, in the virility of a hoax, snowball effect). We should know how far we can rely on the family, with a group of friends and the school environment; surely, from them, we will detect key points that will help us make the right decisions and also be recognized by them as interlocutors and facilitators of solutions.
  • Appreciate the time factor. If we have made progress in the two previous points, we'll have a clear idea of ​​the urgency and need for intervention. There are cases where urgent action is needed (for example in a case of ‘grooming’) and there are cases where it is needed a job at mid-term (for example in a case of addition). It should be clear that apart from educators, we are citizens and as such, our duty is to report a crime if we learn from it.
  • Delimit and be sure about our role of educator, to know where the limits are. If our position is as librarian, teacher, monitor or facilitator of a telecentre, we will surely take a role of "facilitator" of solutions and "connector" of actors. If this is the case, it will be worth having a professional network on which you can count in times when you may need help or advice.

Prevent better than acting. This is our strength, in which we can develop ourselves better. The daily contact with children and young people and often also with their families, it will provide us an excellent environment in which to develop prevention activities and help us to create dynamics and spaces in which we will establish a dialogue if it comes the need to intervene. It's in our hands to do many things, not necessarily economically difficult or expensive.
The student must be prepared to respond to a potential risk, for example, they must know what to answer if someone asks him about personal data or photographs, they must also be able to analyze what he/she does with their time on the Internet.
  • An excellent initiative is to consider that the internet risk prevention must be a transversal working line in the course of action of the school, the library, the telecenter or leisure center.
  • For children and young people, we can propose and promote actions and learning workshops, critical analysis and awareness activities. A line is learning to set up profiles on social networking; to manage options in applications (browsers, APP, ..) to better preserve the privacy; or propose discussions and best practices around digital identity and reputation.
  • For parents, we will promote training and discussion workshops that enable them to manage and learn the tools their children are using; we will also introduce spaces for reflection on the uses, tracking and better prevention strategies for every age. We will also make them aware of the responsibility and benefits of accompanying their children in social networks.
  • Weaving a network of complicity with the environment with which you are sharing the actions planned in order to multiply the results. In this network, we can add the AMPA, social services, neighborhood associations, schools, organizations and professionals who work with minors, ...
  • Working with the group, involving the peer group. If our children are organized into groups, a good strategy is to generate discussion, critical reflection and complicity among them. A workshop discussion of a case, supported by a video, may be a good idea.


Topic 4: Prevention resources and tools

  • Basic knowledge: Available resources and tools to be used in prevention and reporting contexts.
  • Objective Pursued: be aware of assistance and resources such as helplines and reporting-lines.

The European Network of Safer Internet Centres

The joint Insafe-INHOPE network national consists of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) in all 27 countries in the European Union (EU), plus Iceland, Norway and Russia. Each Safer Internet Centre is typically composed of the following four components:

  • Awareness centre
National awareness centres focus on raising awareness and understanding of safer internet issues and emerging trends. They run campaigns to help children, young people, parents, carers and teachers more aware of the potential risks they may encounter online, and aim to empower them with the skills, knowledge and strategies to build resilience and stay safe.
  • Helpline
Helplines provide information, advice and assistance to children, youth and parents on how to deal with harmful content, harmful contact (such as grooming) and harmful conduct such as (cyberbullying or sexting). Helplines can increasingly be accessed via a variety of means – telephone, email, web forms, Skype, and online chat services.
  • Hotline
Hotlines exist to allow members of the public to report illegal content anonymously. Reports are then passed on to the appropriate body for action (internet service provider, police or corresponding hotline). Hotlines are coordinated by INHOPE - the International Association of Internet Hotlines, working in partnership with Insafe to deliver a safer - and better - internet.
  • Youth Panel
Youth panels allow young people to express their views and exchange knowledge and experiences concerning their use of online technologies, as well as tips on how to stay safe.

The Learn2Teach European countries

Parental tools and other

Tool Description Website

OpenDNS Family Shield is a free service of Website filtering, designed to protect minors from unsuitable content available on the Internet. Its configuration and use is very simple, just follow the steps that indicate from the website to enjoy it. In principle does not allow access to webpages whose content is considered "unsuitable" for children, but it will also filter those that are registered as "phishing", frauds, those who propagate malware etc, thus besides being a parental control is a protection for our equipment. We can configure the protection only for specific computers in order it only affects them that restriction, or you can directly configure the router, which will protect all devices connected to Internet via the router (computers, cell phones, game consoles, etc.).

Norton family is a parental control service that requires an account to use it (it is needed to use a real email). Once the account is created, you can add the "users" which will have their activity monitored. It allows to control the time in which the equipment can be used. It also register activities such as browsing in internet, filtering by age, blocking specific sites and permitting others. It monitors the use of certain social networks and electronic messaging. The biggest advantage of this service is that you can define the action in each case, from informing the user to block the action, allowing request a change in the rules to the parent, tutors or educators. To see the activity registration it's needed to access to the website service with the name and password from any computer with an Internet connection. It is a very good tool with complete help.

Qustodio is a parental control application that allows you to monitor certain activities performed by a user. You need to create an account on Qustodio, and that account will be associated to computers and users that you can monitor. You need to install Qustodio on each computer you want to monitor. When installing the program, there is an option to not display the program icon. You can set categories of sites to be monitored, allowed sites, banned sites and time of use of the application. It also allows to activate alarms to send emails and schedule emails summary of activity, both daily and weekly. To consult the monitored activity, you can access by the Qustodio website using the email address and password you used to register.

Kaspersky is a parental control free tool for Android mobile devices that allows to block access to pornographic content, and offers the possibility to control which applications are installed on the device that the child can access.


Topic 2
  • Risks and safety on the internet: the perspective of European children: full findings and policy implications from the EU Kids Online survey of 9-16 year olds and their parents in 25 countries
  • Fernando García Hernández: Nativos Interactivos, los adolescentes y sus pantallas, 2009
Topic 3
  • Young Protection Roundtable Toolkit
  • In their own words: What bothers children online?
Topic 4
  • Safer Internet, find an awareness centre in your country;jsessionid=B534563350AF77363707F9751FF21799#
  • Inhope represents and support Internet hotlines all over the world
Personal tools