Social, Emotional Mental Health (SEMH)

Advice by age 11 to 14

This SEND Index of Harms resource is for CYP with Social, Emotional and Mental Health need. It is broken down by the strands from the Education for a Connected World Framework.

Self-image and identity

This strand explores the differences between online and offline identity beginning with self-awareness, shaping online identities and media influence in propagating stereotypes. It identifies effective routes for reporting and support and explores the impact of online technologies on self-image and behaviour

Likely Harm: Impact of technology on self-image and identity


  • Young person struggles to understand online technologies, how images can be manipulated, or information stored
  • May present with, low self-efficacy, self-esteem, may be secretive, self-isolated, change appearance, anxiety, verbal aggression/defiance, be absent from school/home
  • Issues from possible physical abuse/neglect may lead to increased viewing of sexual content, obsession with mobiles technology and secretive with it
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may be vulnerable to manipulation and engage in harmful actions in order to appease and please others
  • CYP may be easily coerced and threatened by believing the online presence able to physically contact them

Possible responses

  • Role-play scenarios
  • Life stories, where appropriate
  • Learning about sexting and predators
  • Sessions on self-esteem
  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Parental/carer advice and workshops
  • Activities to develop CYP’s sense of self-worth and the capacity to report any encouragement to self-harm
  • Activities to develop reassurance around reporting threats
  • Highly skilled counselling services to support CYP through these episodes


SWGfL – So You Got Naked Online
Safer Internet Day 2020 resources

Online relationships

This strand explores how technology shapes communication styles and identifies strategies for positive relationships in online communities. It offers opportunities to discuss relationships, respecting, giving and denying consent and behaviours that may lead to harm and how positive online interaction can empower and amplify voice.

Likely Harm: Relationships, consent and behaviours leading to harm


  • CYP with low self-efficacy or self-esteem more likely to develop inappropriate relationships online
  • CYP suffering from depression or obsession more likely to have a need to be loved leading to vulnerability to trolling, harassment or stalking.
  • There may be; a change of appearance, absence from school/home, obsession with mobile technology, a desire to hide technology, hidden inappropriate relationships
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may be used as ‘couriers’ sharing material amongst peers without realising its content could be harmful or hurtful
  • CYP may be mocked by former friends for enjoying immature content
  • CYP are extremely vulnerable to being coerced into extremism, criminal activity, sexually abusive relationships and gang cultures due to a strong desire to belong to a group

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours, online relationships
  • Sessions exploring true friendship, desire for romantic relationship, provocative online content
  • Explain key terminology
  • Support parents/carers to understand nudes and parental controls
  • Build peer groups of CYP with similar tastes and buddy systems with peers who value the tastes of other CYP
  • Provide opportunities for CYP to be a part of positive and enhancing social groups

Online reputation

This strand explores the concept of reputation and how others may use online information to make judgements. It offers opportunities to develop strategies to manage personal digital content effectively and capitalise on technology’s capacity to create effective positive profiles.

Likely Harm: Others may use your online reputation to make judgements about you


  • CYP may have unclear boundaries of appropriate behaviour, be vulnerable to ‘judgements’ online, have low self-esteem, depression or self-harm
  • More likely to receive abuse, aggression or be coerced
  • Impulsive, attention-seeking behaviour can give rise to hits, or likes by posting shock, or inappropriate content
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma.
  • CYP may be too open in sharing information about themselves, their families, their location
  • CYP may be attracted to engaging personalities with strong online reputations
  • CYP may not understand some of the language being used by peers online as it is specific to the online world and social media
  • Young people may promote negative viewpoints about themselves online to reinforce their own feelings of low self-esteem

Possible responses

  • Anger management sessions, using RAMP methods as necessary
  • Art therapy and/or behaviour therapy linked to performance in lessons. CBT counselling
  • Activities focused on ‘Private Things and Not Private Things’
  • CYP to be encouraged to share their ideas about who they admire and why
  • Buddy system to help CYP understand the language used
  • Focused activities aimed at developing CYP’s sense of self-worth

Online bullying

This strand explores bullying and other online aggression and how technology impacts those issues. It offers strategies for effective reporting and intervention and considers how bullying and other aggressive behaviour relates to legislation.

Likely Harm: Bullying and aggression can harm others


  • CYP may display; withdrawal, non-expression, depression, phobic anxiety, paranoia, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, psychosomatic symptoms such as; headaches, abdominal pain, sleep deprivation
  • Truancy and avoidance techniques, may lead the CYP unable to describe/comprehend the behaviour
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma.
    May be unable to distinguish between banter and teasing, reacting either extremely sensitively or not at all
  • CYP may be coerced into bullying others online on behalf of peers in order to win social favour
  • CYP’s desire to become independent in the online world may prevent them reporting bullying
  • CYP may falsely report online bullying in order to gain attention for other underlying fears and anxieties

Possible responses

  • Anger management counselling
  • Self-soothe techniques
  • Positive self-image
  • ELSA support intervention
  • Therapeutic sessions
  • Parent/carer support
  • Focused lessons on reporting anything which makes the young person feel sad, uncomfortable or frightened
  • Focused activities developing young person’s resilience to being manipulated by others
  • Focused activities on how to seek and secure appropriate help and support
  • Encourage and empower young person to identify and report their anxieties emphasising how important it is to accurately identify these issues

Managing Online Information

This strand explores how online information is found, viewed and interpreted. It offers strategies for effective searching, critical evaluation of data, the recognition of risks and the management of online threats and challenges. It explores how online threats can pose risks to our physical safety as well as online safety. It also covers learning relevant to ethical publishing

Likely Harm: Online information can be found, viewed and interpreted


  • Low levels of self-esteem and resilience cloud ability to discriminate between true and false information (fake news)
  • Impulsivity can affect internet searches
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may not realise that they are being influenced and targeted
  • CYP may not understand how cookies can be used to target sales
  • CYP can be easily misled driven by a powerful desire to trust due to previous experiences of having been let down. This may lead CYP to believe all online information

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Show CYP how cookies affect searches
  • Focused activities on developing critical faculties of CYP and enabling them to discern between facts and opinions

Health, wellbeing and lifestyle

This strand explores the impact that technology has on health, well-being and lifestyle e.g. mood, sleep, body health and relationships. It also includes understanding negative behaviours and issues amplified and sustained by online technologies and the strategies for dealing with them

Likely Harm: Technology can impact on mood, sleep, body health and relationships


  • CYP may display impulsivity, hyperactivity, anxiety, low mood that may affect ability to regulate safe use of technology
  • Poor attachment with key adults may leave CYP more vulnerable to exploitation online (e.g. payment for apps/parental warnings/pressures)
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP with self-harming behaviours may be more vulnerable to content related to suicide/self-harm/eating disorders
  • CYP with adolescent onset of neurological conditions such as epilepsy may be adversely affected by prolonged time in front of a screen which may not be easily detected
  • CYP may not be able to critically evaluate online lifestyle advice that is unbiased and not sales driven
  • CYP may be attracted online to extreme lifestyle choices in order to assert themselves and gain kudos

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Monitor closely time spent using a range of devices. Focus activities on enabling CYP to identify and report symptoms
  • Activities focus on strategies used in advertising
  • Activities focused on identifying characteristics of harmful content
  • Focused activities on moderated approaches and healthy living

Privacy and security

This strand explores how personal online information can be used, stored, processed and shared. It offers both behavioural and technical strategies to limit impact on privacy and protect data and systems against compromise.

Likely Harm: Personal information can be stored, used and shared which can lead to harm


  • Short-term memory, hyperactivity, impulsivity make it difficult to use a strong password, use location devices safely and use anti-virus software
  • Low self-esteem, poor attachment, fear, trauma can make it difficult to trust key adults and whistle blow on unsafe practice
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • Low self-esteem, anxiety, poor self-efficacy lead to vulnerability using webcams and sharing of data
  • CYP may not understand that devices store and share information
  • CYP may indiscriminately browse the internet thereby downloading malware
  • CYP may seek out stored information in order to connect with previous unhealthy relationships

Possible responses

  • Learning about privacy and security
  • Guidance about mental health, wellbeing and self-harm
  • Focused activities informing CYP about legacy on devices
  • Review settings and set limitations

Copyright and ownership

This strand explores the concept of ownership of online content. It explores strategies for protecting personal content and crediting the rights of others as well as addressing potential consequences of illegal access, download and distribution

Likely Harm: Potential consequences of illegal access, download and distribution of content


  • SEMH difficulties (hyperactivity, attachment, impulsivity, low self-esteem) make it difficult to understand permission of online information
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • Vulnerable to illegal/legal downloading of online content
  • CYP may be used to obtain and / or share content illegally for others or to gain favour with their peers

Possible responses

  • Key trusted adult to ensure:- who can see CYP’s information and advise
  • Provide CYP with clear rules and actions to take if they are coerced into obtaining content or mistakenly obtain content illegally

Useful resources

See our list of useful resources for further support.

Inclusive digital safety resources

Professional Online Safety Helpline

Over 13 – Report Harmful Content Professional Online Safety Helpline

Project Envolve

Childnet Star resource

Advice by Age

Use our list of practical tips to help children have a safer online experience and get the best out of the digital world as they grow.

Making the internet safer and more inclusive

Together with SWGfL we've created this hub to provide online safety advice and gudience to support parents & professionals working with children and young people experiencing vulnerabilities

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