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Exploring primary pupils' experiences and understandings of 'e-safety'

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2009
<mark>Journal</mark>Education and Information Technologies
Issue number2
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)127-142
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper examines the experiences and understandings of primary (K6) school pupils with regards to managing issues of risk and safety during their everyday use of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The paper is based on survey and interview data with pupils aged 7 to 11 years old in five English primary schools (n = 612). Analysis of these data shows that whilst most pupils recognised a general need to be mindful of ICT-related risks and dangers, their actual experiences of risk tended to be described in terms of operational problems encountered when using ICTs. Conversely, pupils’ understandings of potential risk were often based upon exaggerated fears deriving from a number of moral panics relating to child safety. These data suggest that official notions of ‘e-safety’ remain abstract and poorly understood concepts for many children. In considering what implications these data have for the ongoing ‘e-safety’ agenda in UK schools the paper concludes by suggesting three possible areas of change: (1) re-orientating the topic and tone of the official discourses surrounding e-safety; (2) increasing pedagogical interventions in primary schools aiming at enhancing pupils’ critical literacy skills; and (3) establishing a meaningful and sustained dialogue between pupils, teachers and parents about safety and risk when using ICTs.