Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology

Online safety education for young people

Children’s use of the internet has significantly increased over the past decade and they are also increasingly likely to access the internet from their own personal devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Parents and the Government have expressed concerns about preparing children for ‘life online’.

A 2017 survey conducted for the Children’s Commissioner found that, while 73% of parents are concerned about the material that their children access online, many do not feel confident about teaching their children to use the internet safely. The Children’s Commissioner has also identified shortcomings in the teaching of digital skills in schools.

This POSTnote will discuss the available evidence on how children, parents and teachers view online safety and how aware they are of online risks. It will examine the ways in which online safety and wellbeing is currently taught, summarise what online safety teaching resources are available and also look at the role of technology in improving online safety, such as using age verification tools.