Secondary school resources

Free e-safety teaching materials

Most videos games and social media platforms are designed for children aged 13+. While 44% of primary school children have their own mobile phones, the same is true for 97% of children in secondary school. However, not all children understand the dangers of the online space or believe they are mature enough to handle them. That’s why it’s important to give them the skills they need to make safe choices with quality secondary school resources.

From managing their screen time to navigating cyberbullying or inappropriate content, we have a variety of primary school resources to help teach teens about safe online use.

Find free secondary school resources for schools and teachers.

Common online safety issues in Key Stages 3 and 4

The digital world offers a variety of benefits to children and young people, but not all teens understand the harmful risks that may affect them online. Below are common e-safety issues that children in KS3 and KS4 may experience. See what they are and how teachers can support them.

Cyberbullying

According to Ofcom’s 2022 report, 71% of parents of children aged 12-15 were worried about online bullying. 12-15s were most likely to be bullied via text/messaging apps. Compared to other age groups, children aged 12-15 were less likely to be bullied face-to-face than online.

Some research suggests that children might stop reporting bullying because they feel like it’s not dealt with appropriately. As educators, it’s important to teach children the best routes for reporting online bullying while also sharing resources for them to use. Abusive behaviour should never go unchecked.

Additional reading

Secondary school resource to support children

Fake news and misinformation

91% of children aged 12-15 use social media. According to Ofcom’s 2022 News Consumption report, Instagram, TikTok and Youtube are the most common sources of news among teens. With so much false information spread through social media, it’s important to teach teens how to think critically about what they see online.

False information is often called ‘fake news’, but it’s more than that. The two main types of false information are misinformation and disinformation. Misinformation is false information that people share because they think it’s true while disinformation is false information that is known to be false and purposely shared. In many cases, disinformation can become misinformation.

If someone purposely shares false information, they usually have a motive for it. This could be to make sales, influence beliefs or get views/page engagement. When others believe the information, they are likely to share and spread it to others who may also believe it. If users don’t fact-check what they see, they may continue to spread it unknowingly.

Additional reading

Secondary school resource to support children

Inappropriate content

Inappropriate content can include anything not suitable for a child’s age such as:

Conversations and lessons with children about inappropriate content can help them understand what is and isn’t okay for them to see and why.

Additional reading

Secondary school resources to support children

Privacy and security

In their 2022 Children’s Media Use and Attitudes report, Ofcom found that children use a range of privacy and security measure to keep safe online. These include browsing in incognito mode (21%) and using a proxy server (5%). While these measure promote privacy, they may actually leave teens open to more online harms like inappropriate or extremist content.

Additionally, 6% of children report bypassing parental controls that keep them from visiting some apps and sites. Therefore, it’s important to teach teens why privacy settings and parental controls benefit them. They may not yet fully understand the importance of their online safety.

94% of children aged 12-17 use social media and while these platforms often allow users to limit who can interact with them, only 30% report using these controls. Helping teens to understand the importance of privacy online can help them take greater ownership of their security online. Having these features in place will ensure their online reputation remains positive for the future.

Additional reading

Secondary school resources to support children

Screen time

97% of children aged 12-15 have their own mobile phones, going up to 100% for 16-17s. They use a variety of devices and platforms including video games, video-sharing platforms and social media apps. On average: boys play around 4 hours of video games per day while girls play around 2 hours; children aged 7-16 spend just under 3 ½ hours per day online; children aged 4-15 spend just under six hours per week watching video content. Additionally, 62% of 7-16s have access to their mobile phones at all times, which means they may spend more time than is recorded.

In the same report from Ofcom as the above, 40% of parents say they struggle to manage their child’s screen time. Support from schools is vital in helping children understand how to balance screen use.

Balanced screen use means using devices for different purposes. This may be playing video games or browsing social media but could also include completing homework, doing school work, learning new skills, practising wellbeing and more. It also means taking breaks from digital to focus on offline activities like school, spending time with family and friends, staying active and more.

In our report created with TikTok, we found that most teens are aware of their need to manage their screen time. They do so through a variety of methods including screen time apps. While they recognise they may need some support, they want the ability for flexibility. Teaching teens how to find balance is an important skill they can take with them beyond school.

Additional reading

Primary school resources to support children

Self-harm

While online self-harm appears different from offline self-harm, they are both damaging to a young person. Online, it may include:

  • young people encouraging others to roast them
  • consuming content that promotes eating disorders or self-harm
  • getting validation of suicidal or harmful feelings on online forums
  • trolling or saying things online to receive abusive reactions

Digital self-harm often validates someone’s feelings of depression or worthlessness and should not be brushed off. Teaching young people about healthy outlets for low moods can help them learn how to regulate themselves and recognise when it’s time to seek help.

Additional reading

Secondary school resources to support children

Sexting

Sexting is the sharing of sexually explicit messages and images online, often over messaging and texting apps.

Young people engage in sexting for a variety of reasons. 17% of children aged 15+ report having shared nude images of themselves in a 2020 report. Among this number, children with vulnerabilities are more likely to sext. For instance, care-experienced children (26%), those with eating disorders (23%) and those with long-standing physical illnesses (20%) were more likely than those without vulnerabilities (6%) to engage in sexting.

Among those who have shared nudes, 18% report they were blackmailed or pressured into doing it. However, regardless of their reason for sharing these images, it is a form of child-on-child abuse and victims need to be aware of the ways they can get help.

Additional reading

Secondary school resources to support children

Popular platforms for children in KS3 and KS4

Learn about the more popular games and platforms that your students might use, including their benefits and the issues to watch out for.

Featured primary school resources to use in the classroom

Our free e-safety resources help make teaching online safety easy. From detailed lessons to unique tools, these resources for secondary school cover some of the most important online safety topics for children in secondary school.

The Online Together Project

Use this tool to start a discussion about stereotypes found online. Create a lesson that uses the gender stereotypes quiz as an assessment, activity or starter, and begin challenging biases online.

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Find the Fake

Help children learn how to recognise unreliable or false information online using this quiz created with Google. Use it within your lesson as a starter, main activity or assessment to help minimise risk online.

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Cyberbullying conversations

Use our conversation starter guides to help students feel comfortable about being honest about cyberbullying. Create a homework task to get parents involved in their child’s online safety.

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Digital Resilience Toolkit

Teach children to be resilient online by using this secondary school resource as a guide to your lesson. Or send this resource home to help parents support children’s digital resilience at home and at school.

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Guide to apps

Help secondary school children balance their screen time by using their devices purposefully. These apps and games help children stay active, manage their wellbeing and learn a range of new skills.

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Digital agreement

Help children think about how much time their families spend on devices with this family agreement template. Have children create one to share with their families or send the template home to parents.

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