The internet is becoming increasingly integral to children’s lives. Consequently, it is vital that children are educated in how to protect themselves online and how to become responsible online users. This action research study addresses significant gaps in existing research by exploring children’s online experiences, alongside their understandings of risk, from their own perspective, in order to inform a personalised and relevant internet safety curriculum within the research setting. The study utilises a mixed-methods approach, combining a comprehensive quantitative survey with a subsequent qualitative group interview with a sample of 14 participants. Findings suggest that, despite being proficient online users with an awareness of what constitutes online risk, many children largely fail to apply this knowledge to their own online practices. The study demonstrates the importance of educators and schools understanding children’s online activities in order to respond to their needs and concerns effectively. Based on the research findings, it is recommended that similar research is actioned across primary schools, and that schools appoint pupils as internet safety ambassadors to provide educators with insights into children’s current online activities, alongside providing peer guidance and support from a pupil perspective. These recommendations could be significant for the online safety education of children and young people in the wider context.
Scott, J. (2016). Children and the internet: An exploration of Year 5 pupils’ online experiences and perceptions of risk. Fields: Journal of Huddersfield Student Research, 2(1), e21. https://doi.org/10.5920/fields.2016.2121