The internet enables children to have fun, connect with family and friends, and learn. But it can also put them at risk of seeing content that makes them feel upset, uncomfortable, worried, or frightened.
What is inappropriate content?
Inappropriate content can refer to different types of material including nudity, violence, or hate speech. Some children may think it is cool to view this type of content and see it as ‘no big deal’ at the time. Others may feel upset, confused, or bad about watching it. In either case, it can be beneficial for children to get context about what they have seen.
What should you do if you see inappropriate content?
It’s normal for children to feel scared, angry, upset, or confused after seeing inappropriate content. The following advice may be helpful for those who have seen this type of content:
- Encourage them to turn off the screen or close the browser window in the first instance.
- Suggest that they talk to a trusted adult, who can make sure that they are okay and help them to deal with what they have seen. Some young people may be deterred from telling an adult if they fear being punished or have concerns that adults don’t have the information or experience to assist them. That’s why it’s important to reassure them that talking to a trusted adult is the right decision to make.
- Acknowledge how they feel and talk about the context behind what they viewed, whether it was real or not, and how they can avoid seeing similar content in future.
Refer to Netsafe(external link) for more information about helping young people who are exposed to upsetting content.
The below resources can be used by Educators to support conversations with students about what to do if they are confronted with content online that upsets them.
- The Inter-Yeti(external link) digital storybook teaches children aged 5-11 about various online safety topics. Chapter 3 – The Sea of Information(external link) focuses on upsetting content.
- Childnet(external link) provides advice, cut-outs, and fun activities that can be used to teach children aged 5-11 about how to respond if they see upsetting content online.
If you are going to show videos in the classroom from YouTube, consider using YouTube kids (external link)This restricts content depending on the age of users and ensures young people won’t be expose to inappropriate content.
- The Mighty Heros(external link): an animated series from the eSafety that teaches children aged 4–8-years-old about trusting their feelings and asking for help when something doesn’t feel right.