Online safety

There is concern about young people’s safety when they are online. Online or e-safety is an area that researchers should consider carefully when planning and undertaking research.

There are organisations, which provide helpful resources and advice on e-safety. These emphasise the importance of children and young people being well informed about potential risks when using digital media. Although adults need to be aware of risks, young people should be supported to develop skills to protect themselves online.

Points to consider: e-safety

  • Risk assess your research project to identify if there are any e-safety issues and address them before the research starts
  • Ensure protocols on e-safety are in place
  • Explore any e-safety issues with young people and identify together how these will be handled in your project (young people might have good ideas about how to do this)
  • Ensure that all participants are aware of what to do about cyber-bullying and how to get advice and support
  • Be particularly attentive to issues of e-safety where any part of the research (communications, tools, data, findings) is available publicly
  • Seek support or advice from those with relevant experience so that your research is well informed by e-safety issues.


The following list includes resources aimed at professionals, parents and carers, and young people.

  • CBBC - Stay Safe site from BBC children’s channel
  • CEOP’s thinkuknow has specific sections for children and young people, parents and carers and teachers and trainers
  • Cybermentors - Young people supporting other young people around bullying online and offline
  • knowthenet - Site run by a not-for-profit organisation including ‘ask a question’ and tests.
  • respectme - Scottish anti bullying organisation with section on cyberbullying.
  • Safe - Programme of practical activities that develops young people's skills, self-confidence and safety awareness when using social networking sites.
  • Safe Internet Programme - Programme which aims to empower and protect children and young people online.
  • Livingstone, S., Haddon, L., and Gorzig, A. (Eds.) (2012) Children, Risk and Safety Online: Research and policy challenges in comparative perspective. Bristol: The Policy Press


There is an increasing number of policies covering this topic. Here is a selection:

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“The approach of putting something up on a social media site and expecting the work to be done on dissemination is not realistic. The attention that we’ve always given to how we disseminate our findings should be given as well to using the online world.”
Susan Elsley, University of Edinburgh