Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education

Cyber-safety Education for the Early Years


This project aims to conduct a pilot randomised trial to evaluate the feasibility of teacher designed cyber-safety lessons/activities in the early years based on young children’s knowledge of online safety. This is the first study, nationally and internationally, to provide a preliminary evidence base for understanding young children’s knowledge of online safety to inform the provision of pedagogically and age appropriate cyber-safety lessons/activities for children aged 4-5 years. This project is aligned with the National Strategic Research Priority: Securing Australia’s place in a changing world, and with the specific priority goal nominated for this social challenge: Improve cyber-safety for all Australians.


  • auDA Foundation $15,217
  • ACURF $17,729


  • 2015-2016

Research Investigators

Project detail

Project Aim

This pilot-study project aimed to identify young children’s internet cognition and consequent levels of cyber-safety awareness. It was conducted as a randomised trial that involved two groups of teachers and children – an intervention group and a control group. A total of 70 children participated on baseline and post-intervention interviews about their cyber-safety knowledge. The intervention teachers designed and implemented play-based learning experiences to foster children’s cyber-safety knowledge based on their internet cognition in between the two sets of interviews. Initial analysis suggests that cyber-safety education for young children cannot be effectively developed without first considering young children’s everyday concepts of the internet.

Research Partners

Selected Bibliography

Chaudron, C. (2015). Young children (0-8) and digital technology: A qualitative exploratory study across seven countries. Luxembourg, European Union: Joint Research Centre

Dodge, A., Husain, N., & Duke, N. (2011). Connected kids? K-2 children’s use and understanding of the internet. Language Arts, 89(2), 86-98.

Edwards, S. (2015). New concepts of play and the problem of technology, digital media and popular-culture integration with play-based learning in early childhood education. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2015.1108929

Ey, L., & Cupit, C. (2011). Exploring young children’s understanding of risks associated with internet usage and their concepts of management strategies. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 9(1), 53-65.

Gutnick, A. L., Robb, M., Takeuchi, L., & Kotler, J. (2011). Always connected: The new digital media habits of young children. New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Holloway, D., Green, L., & Stevenson, K. (2015). Digitods: Toddlers, touchscreens and Australian family life. M/C Journal, 18(5), 1 – 7.

Plowman, L. (2015). Rethinking context: digital technologies and the children’s everyday lives. Children’s Geographies.

Vandewater, E., Rideout, V., Wartella, E., Huang, X., Lee, J., & Shim, M. (2007). Digital childhood: electronic media and technology use amongst infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Paediatrics, 119 (5), 1006-1015.

Useful links for educators and families

Project Findings