E-safety - What are the dangers?

E-safety - What are the dangers?

Posted on Apr 15, 2016




What are the dangers?


Children are going online at an increasingly young age; this presents many opportunities for developing life skills, but it also presents risks.

The most common concerns for children and young people are pornographic and violent material, cyberbullying, grooming, and their digital footprint (the information, images and videos that can be linked to them).

The risks that children and young people face can be split into three categories:

  1. Content
  2. Contact
  3. Conduct



Content risks refer to situations where a child or young person may see upsetting, inappropriate or illegal content.

Such content includes:


  • Pornography
  • Violence
  • Hateful material
  • Pro-anorexia and self-harm sites
  • Online ads
  • In-app purchases
  • Gambling
  • Extremism and radicalisation


Of course, not all of this material is illegal in itself, nor is it created to offend or harm children, and it’s important to be aware that children will not necessarily accidentally find this material, it can be found intentionally.



Contact risks refers to situations where the child is in the position of participant, where they may be subject to cyberbullying or grooming.

These risks are not only posed by strangers but also peers, and for some children and young people it is difficult to distinguish the two.

For this reason, the focus is no longer on warning children against 'stranger danger' but encouraging them to be careful about the personal information they give out.



Conduct refers to situations where the child is in the position of actors, where they may be involved in the production or uploading of inappropriate content, in the piracy of materials, or in hacking.

The two key conduct risks are sexting, and downloading music and video illegally.



Sexting describes the act of sharing sexual messages or sexually explicit images using smartphones or other devices. This may sometimes be referred to as ‘cybersex’ and images are sometimes referred to as ‘nudes’.


Illegal downloading

Children are naturally curious and inquisitive, and the internet can satisfy this need – there is easy access to a range of downloadable music, videos, and software, some of which are perfectly legal but not all of them. Illegal downloading or file sharing can expose children to a number of risks from viruses, to unsuitable images and sometimes even fines.


What do children and young people worry about?

Children’s concern about these risks change as they grow older. When they are younger, they are more concerned about content risks, ie witnessing inappropriate material, but as they get older they become more concerned about conduct and contact risks.


Preventing risks

These days, the focus is much more on educating young people and enabling them to manage risk themselves, rather than on filtering, blocking and monitoring.

Filtering and control tools do have a place in e-safety but when used on their own, they do not lower risk.

Preventative actions you can take:

  • Talk about content – The focus should be on educating children and young people so that they can understand any content they are exposed to.
  • Talk about contact – Talk openly about who they talk to online.
  • Talk about conduct –Talk with children and young people about how they conduct themselves online.
  • Be approachable – Be someone who children and young people can turn to. Don’t assume that they will automatically know this – actively let them know that if they have concerns, they can talk to you.
  • Ask questions – Even if they seem obvious to you, ask questions about what they do online.
  • Be honest and open – Tell young people why you are interested in what they do online, why older people may want to approach them online, why some people bully online.
  • Don’t be judgemental – Be sensitive to a young person’s feelings and be aware that it may have taken a lot for a young person to talk to you. Even if you disagree with actions they have taken or beliefs


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