Free digital literacy lessons

Resources for teachers and parents

Digital Matters is a free online platform featuring free digital literacy lessons to help teach online safety through interactive lessons and dynamic storytelling.

Two smartphones showing screenshots of the Interactive Activity part of the 'Is it funny or is it hate?' cyberbullying lesson from Digital Matters.

What is Digital Matters?

Digital Matters is a free teaching resource featuring digital literacy lessons to help children and parents understand online safety. It uses interactive activities and discussion points to dig into important online safety issues, and a choice-based story where children can practise their learnt skills with instant feedback.

Interactive Learning

Supported by the lesson plan, children are led through a number of quiz questions that ask them to use what they know or have learnt. Helpers support them with additional hints. After each set of questions within the digital literacy lesson, children can review the correct answers, and teachers or parents can have important discussions around the online safety topic.

Once Upon Online

This choice-based story asks children to read each chapter and make choices based on what they learned during the Interactive Learning section of each digital literacy lesson to help characters reach positive endings. Stories feature diverse characters, immediate emotional feedback and every opportunity to make choices that get characters out of negative situations. Children can redo this journey as many times as they like to try and find all  the different potential endings!

See how the Digital Matters platform works to engage young people in digital literacy lessons.

“As a student I found this activity fun, useful and educating. I really enjoyed it!”


“These are good lessons about the digital space . . . especially social media for kids. I am just going through as a teacher and a parent and I think I would want to add to the curriculum of my kids.”

Digital Matters user


“It is good, I learned lots of stuff and my opinion is this website is legit. I LOVE IT😎😎😎”


“These are amazingly comprehensive lessons. I love that they aren’t going for the scare tactic approach and that you use gender neutral pronouns.”

Marisa V.

Instructional Designer

“As a student I really enjoyed the ‘once upon a time’ [sic] session.”


“Amazing place to teach year 6 children before they move to secondary school. Me and my class had an amazing day of it we also used this in our online bulling assembly.”

Grace P.


“An effective resource for the teaching of online safety.”

Stuart R.

“Well planned and resourced. Clear information on coverage of national curriculum and education for a connected world. I liked all of the options given to make the lessons more interesting”

Cheryl B.

What digital literacy lessons are available?

Currently, Digital Matters features a series of 8 free digital literacy lesson plans and activities that teach key online safety skills. Lessons currently focus on children aged 9-11 (Key Stage 2/Second Level). Explore what they cover below.

Tackling hateful language

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • Why laughing reactions don’t always show how someone feels
  • How words — even ‘jokes’ — can really hurt people
  • What perpetrators, victims and bystanders can do to spread positivity online
  • How to get support as a victim of hateful language online.

Once Upon Online synopsis

In “Playing With Hate”, Nia is excited to start playing the most popular game at school — Voxyarn. She spends a lot of time creating an avatar that looks just like her (with some flourish) and feels really proud.

However, when she starts playing, some users say some really hurtful things. Students must help Nia and her nain navigate hate online to create a more positive space for all.

Go to the “Online Bullying” lesson.

Becoming an upstander

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What cyberbullying is and isn’t
  • What it looks like
  • How and where to get support for themselves or their friends
  • How to support victims and challenge friends who show bullying behaviours

Once Upon Online synopsis

When Alex sees his friend, Riley, saying nasty things about Zane in a group chat, he isn’t sure what to do. Zane can’t see the messages, so is it really hurting him? In “Friendships in Danger,” help Alex become an upstander and find the right support to resolve conflict within his friendship group.

Go to the “Online Bullying” lesson.

Sharing content online

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What online reputation is
  • How we create our online reputation
  • What could lead to a negative reputation
  • The importance of asking permission before videoing or taking pictures of others
  • What is and isn’t appropriate to share online
  • Where to get support and how to resolve conflict

Once Upon Online synopsis

In “Sharing Gone Wrong,” Joseph is hanging out with his friends, including his best friend, Michael, when he decides to record the moment so they can all remember it. But when he shares it publicly, things start to go wrong. Help Joseph repair his friendship and learn about asking for consent when it comes to sharing content featuring other people.

Go to the “Online Reputation” lesson.

Creating a positive self-image

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What self-image is
  • What identity is
  • How self-image impacts our identity
  • Where to get support if they need it
  • How social media impacts self-image
  • What to look out for on social media and what changes to make

Once Upon Online synopsis

In “Under Pressure,” Antoni loves finding fitness tips on social media. But when he starts to compare himself to the images he sees, he wonders if he’s doing enough and starts to look into his options. Help Antoni make positive choices to support his self-image and wellbeing.

Go to the “Self-Image and Identity” lesson.

Behaving in healthy ways online

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What positive and negative behaviours online look like
  • Positive actions someone can take if they need support
  • What positive interactions look like
  • How to get support if someone makes them uncomfortable online
  • How to support others online in positive ways

Once Upon Online synopsis

Meera and her friends LOVE Dragoncry, an online video game. When a friend of a friend appears, Meera has to make positive choices about how to interact with them, including what to say and what to believe. In “A ‘Friend’ Appears,” users need to help Meera interact in healthy ways online and to get support.

Go to the “Online Relationships” lesson.

Using online tools in honest ways

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What is means to ‘own’ school work
  • The merit of doing your own work instead of copying
  • How research teaches a range of skills beyond just the subject
  • What to do if you get stuck on school work
  • Appropriate ways to use online tools like artificial intelligence (AI)

Once Upon Online synopsis

Rory loves to research, so when they’re given a choice between researching Alexander Fleming or Florence Nightingale at school, they’re ready! But they soon find that research for school is a little harder than they thought. In “Research Rescue,” can they find the support they need to ace their project?

Go to the “Copyright and Ownership” lesson.

Balancing Screen Time

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What ‘balancing’ screen time means
  • How to balance screen time
  • Where to get support
  • What tools they can use to manage their screen use

Once Upon Online synopsis

In “A Delicate Balance,” Emmy is a child in care and uses her smartphone and social media to keep in contact with friends and family she doesn’t always get to see. But things go wrong when her time spent on her device leaves her feeling stressed, takes away her sleep and leads to problems in school. Help Emmy find the right balance with her screen use to support her wellbeing.

Go to the ‘Health, Wellbeing and Lifestyle’ lesson.

Thinking critically about information

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • The difference between belief, fact and opinion
  • What being sceptical means
  • Some signs information might not be trustworthy
  • What trustworthy sources look like
  • Tips for thinking critically about information they see
  • Where to get support when they need it

Once Upon Online synopsis

“The Secret Identity of HarleeGamez” follows Adil who learns some shocking information about their favourite streamer, HarleeGamez. But he isn’t sure how trustworthy it is. Help Adil get to the bottom of what’s real to stop the spread of harmful misinformation.

Go to the “Managing Online Information” lesson.

Protecting private and personal information

What skills do children learn?

In this digital literacy lesson, children learn:

  • What makes a strong password
  • What data and privacy are
  • How privacy settings help
  • What kind of information should stay hidden online
  • Why keeping passwords private (even from friends) is important

Once Upon Online synopsis

In “The Trouble With Sharing,” Elan is about to ruin her streak when access to her phone is limited on holiday. So, she enlists the help of her friend Duha. Things aren’t so straightforward though, and users have to help Elan keep her personal information private while seeking out support when it’s needed.

Go to the “Privacy and Security” lesson.

How can parents use digital literacy lessons?

  • Start as a parent, choose your digital literacy lesson and download the Parent Pack
  • Complete the Parent Pack quiz with your child — or compete against them
  • While Interactive Learning works well in the classroom, Once Upon Online is perfect for home
  • Read the Once Upon Online story and make choices together; or, each do your own journey and compare your endings.

The cover image of A Delicate Balance from the Health, Wellbeing and Lifestyle story on Digital Matters featuring the main character, Emmy, looking worried as she struggles to balance her screen time.

After completing the digital literacy lesson’s story, talk to your child about the choices they made. What happened? Did anything surprise them? Have they ever experienced something similar?

Then, discuss the options your child has if they worry about something online. Encourage them to come to you, talk to another trusted adult or speak with a helpline counsellor — whatever makes them most comfortable.

Learn more about potential online issues to better support your child.

Free digital stories

Help children practise skills in reading, predicting and discussions with Once Upon Online stories.

This is the image for: Read Research Rescue

Research Rescue

Rory feels stressed about a school research project and needs help making the right choices to help them learn. Children must help Rory complete their project in honest ways.

This story focuses on using digital tools like generative AI and word processors in appropriate ways for school.

Read Research Rescue
This is the image for: Read the story

The Secret Identity of HarleeGamez

Adil must navigate a VERY interesting piece of information about his favourite streamer. Children must help him think critically about this information before sharing it.

This story focuses on misinformation and how to assess information.

Read the story
This is the image for: Read A Delicate Balance

A Delicate Balance

Emmy must learn how to create a positive and balanced relationship with her smartphone. Children must help her make good choices to guide her to a positive ending.

This story focuses on screen time and regulating your time on devices in appropriate ways.

Read A Delicate Balance
This is the image for: Read the story

The Trouble With Sharing

Elan has to decide between sharing her personal information and missing out on the in-game event of the year! Children must help her make safe decisions to support her safety.

This story focuses on creating strong passwords and understanding what privacy means.

Read the story
This is the image for: Read Under Pressure

Under Pressure

Social media starts making Antoni feel pressured to look a certain way that's not all that realistic. Children must help him find support for his mental wellbeing and self-image.

This story focuses on body image and the influence of the internet on our wellbeing.

Read Under Pressure
This is the image for: Read Playing With Hate

Playing With Hate

Voxyarn is the most popular online game at Nia’s school. But when she starts to play, she’s shocked by the hateful messages she receives. Children must help her find support.

This story focuses hate speech sometimes present in video games and the actions we can take.

Read Playing With Hate
This is the image for: Read Friendships in Danger

Friendships in Danger

Alex is upset by Riley's messages about his good friend Zane. Should he say something or just keep it to himself? Children must help Alex make positive choices to stop bullying.

This story focuses on bullying among friends and how to become an upstander.

Read Friendships in Danger
This is the image for: Read A Friend Appears

A 'Friend' Appears

When Meera's friend invites someone new to their game, Meera struggles to make positive choices. Children must help her navigate healthy and unhealthy behaviours to support in-game positivity.

This story focuses on interaction between others online and how to stay safe.

Read A Friend Appears
This is the image for: Read the story

Sharing Gone Wrong

Joseph learns how uploading content of someone else without their permission can have negative impacts. Children must help him make positive choices to support his friend and online reputation.

This story focuses on asking permission to post content and being careful about what you record.

Read the story
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