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



Research Investigators

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

The pilot study concluded in 2015. Publications and reports will be posted in this section as they become available.


November 18, 2016

Chief Investigator/s

Professor Susan Edwards

Research Status




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