Social, Emotional Mental Health (SEMH)

Advice by age 4 to 7

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • CYP may struggle to understand how people behave online, how they can express their feelings, and have low empathy
  • May express inappropriate behaviour or impulsive behaviour
  • Leads to inability to manage boundaries, regulate emotions and present limited concentration
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP with limited communication skills will not be able to speak up or speak out
  • CYP with cognitive or communication disability may not be able to identify and / or report abuse

Possible responses

  • High level of supervision required
  • Key words taught
  • Story sacks
  • Young person-centred planning meeting
  • Training for staff
  • Wishes and feelings
  • Activities focused on assertive communication learning phrases such as ‘No’, ‘I don’t like it’, ‘Go away’, ‘Stop’
  • Specific training for staff around vigilance in respect of CYP with SEND

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • CYP may struggle to understand how technology is used for communication or use inappropriately
  • Delayed milestones leading to over-sharing
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may struggle to manage boundaries, behaviours and be unable to understand how private sharing can have public consequences
  • CYP will not understand the difference between ‘virtual presence’ and ‘actual presence’
  • CYP may find it difficult to establish early online relationships with peers

Possible responses

  • ELSA intervention programme
  • Learning about sharing images, online gaming, online content.
  • Stories about staying safe online
  • Play activities focused on showing CYP that people can connect through online platforms but not actually be present. For example, role play, small-world character play
  • Develop buddy systems and friendship groups to encourage CYP to develop early positive online relationships

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • CYP unable to understand that information can be copied
  • Anxiety from impulsive behaviours leading to information being seen by others and melt down may result in inappropriate language use
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may not have a sense that other people form opinions about them

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Activities focused on developing understanding of other people’s views from shared content

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • CYP displays lack of emotional understanding and inability to explain feeling of self or others, unexplained melt-downs
  • Inappropriate responses on devices e.g. game boxes unable to control own responses
  • Demand for screen time and aggressive response if removed
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • Withdrawal from peer interaction, crying and clinging to adult. School refusal. Unable to articulate or understand what has been said online
  • Families sharing images and stories about their CYP may be insulted and driven off online media
  • CYP may have developed a sense of ‘deserving’ to be bullied online due to low self-esteem and self-worth. Therefore they may not feel able to report bullying or seek support

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Lego therapy
  • Story sacks and stories
  • Puppets and role play
  • Parent/carer workshops to raise awareness and plan responses
  • Focused activities to build CYP’s sense of self-worth and empower them to report and prevent bullying

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • CYP struggles when screen time limited by an adult, becomes frustrated if the technology or content is not available, both leading to regular melt-downs
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may have a dependence of a device as a result of poor social interaction and may be unable to describe and demonstrate how to get help
  • May inadvertently share information that could identify location/threaten physical safety
  • CYP may fear voice-activated devices as they are ‘inhuman’. This fear may be used to manipulate and coerce them

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Lego therapy for anger issues
  • Self-soothe and regulatory activities
  • SaLT input to develop key activation sounds
  • Enable CYP to become familiar with voice-activated devices so that they understand that they are machines

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • CYP may display impulsivity, hyperactivity, poor social relationships that may affect understanding of rules/guidance to keep me safe online
  • Inappropriate use of technology/over-reliance on devices may lead to sleep/weight/mental health issues
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may become fixated on particular online content as part of a soothing routine
  • CYP may become over-reliant on IT-based activities
  • CYP with neurological conditions such as epilepsy may be adversely affected by prolonged time in front of a screen
  • CYP may be drawn towards high-risk online behaviours

Possible responses

  • Learning about online behaviours
  • Parent/carer workshops focusing on the stimulatory effect of devices and the need to reduce use of devices before sleep
  • Ensure there is a mix of physical activities built into CYP’s routine
  • Monitor CYP’s usage closely and focus activities on informing of online dangers. Ensure in-school filtering and monitoring meets the requirements of Keeping CYP Safe in Education 2020

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • Short-term memory difficulties, impulsivity, hyperactivity may make it difficult for the CYP to remember passwords
  • Poor attachment and fear of trusted adults may make it difficult to share information safely
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • Self-esteem and desire to please can lead to over sharing of key information (address, name, contact details)
  • CYP may have distorted notions of privacy and either over-share or under-share information

Possible responses

  • Support from key adult; privacy check, monitor usage, monitor sharing of information
  • Learning about privacy and security
  • Guidance about mental health, wellbeing and self-harm
  • Clear instruction provided on what can and should not be shared

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

Behaviours/Indicators

  • SEMH difficulties (hyperactivity, attachment, impulsivity, low self-esteem) make it difficult to understand that everything I writes/creates/films online belongs to them
  • Adversity gives rise to possible over-reliance upon technology, leading to increased risk of grooming, online attention and corresponding trauma
  • CYP may be shunned by their peers because they do not recognise ownership
  • CYP may not consider their work online is of any value and be too embarrassed to recognise it as theirs

Possible responses

  • Key trusted adult to ensure:- who can see CYP’s information
  • Buddy system to help develop recognition of ownership and collaboration
  • Activities focused on empowering CYP thereby developing their sense of self-worth

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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