Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Inappropriate content: scenarios

Instructions on how to use these scenarios 

These scenarios are designed to be used with students to start skill-building conversations or with teachers for professional learning.

Using these scenarios in professional learning situations

  • Cut the individual cards out and discuss the scenarios using the questions as a basis for discussion.
  • Work in groups and identify where in the curriculum students can be taught skills to protect them from this risk.
  • Use the scenarios for parent information evenings to build parent skills and knowledge.

Using these scenarios with students

  • Give students scenarios to read, either in groups or individually.
  • Students look at the scenario from the character's perspective and answer the questions provided.
  • Once the students have read the scenario ask students to reflect on their own skills in managing this type of risk online.

Scenario 1: What was that?

Name: George

Age: 5

George was watching videos of dogs playing on YouTube. Because YouTube was on autoplay, it kept recommending new videos for George. After watching several cute videos, a video appeared showing someone throwing stones at a dog. George loves dogs and was very confused and upset by what he saw. 

What should George do if he sees a video like this? How can George reduce the chance of accidentally seeing this type of content in the future?

Possible responses:

  • George could log out of YouTube or walk away from the device.
  • George could talk to his parents or teacher about ways to prevent these types of videos from appearing.
  • George should talk to an adult about how the video made him feel. 

Teachers can help George and other students be prepared to deal with this online risk by:

  • teaching students' skills to remove themselves from content they find disturbing, e.g. moving away from the computer
  • working with students' to ensure content filters on their devices are set up to minimise exposure to inappropriate content, e.g. removing the autoplay option and switching on parental controls.

Scenario 2: Check this out

Name: Phoebe

Age: 13

Phoebe was sent an email from a classmate asking her to check out a link to a site called www.boredatschool.com.au. The site had links to entertaining videos, games and memes. Some of the links were funny, but Phoebe came across one which linked to a video of a child being hit and hurt. Afterwards, you notice that Phoebe looks upset and distracted. When you speak to her, she tells you what happened. Phoebe tells you she is worried about getting in trouble and can’t get the image out of her mind. 

What should Phoebe do in this situation? How can Phoebe reduce the chance of seeing this type of content in the future?

Possible responses:

  • Phoebe should tell her classmate that the site had an upsetting video so they should not share the link with anyone else. 
  • Phoebe should tell her classmate that receiving this type of content made her feel upset. She could say ‘Hey, usually you send really funny links… but this one made me really upset.’
  • Phoebe should tell someone she trusts about how the content made her feel. 
  • Phoebe and her classmate could discuss the inappropriate content with a teacher.

Teachers can help Phoebe and other students be prepared to deal with this online risk by:

  • identifying strategies to avoid viewing inappropriate content e.g. not clicking on links that are unknown
  • discussing the upsetting impact of sharing age-inappropriate or violent content
  • teaching strategies to seek help when content makes them feel upset 
  • discussing how students can access support if they don’t feel comfortable talking to their teacher e.g. Kids Helpline, a school counsellor.

Scenario 3: Dangerous activities

Name: Amira

Age: 15

Amira has friends who have been interacting with people in an online forum. The forum promotes dangerous and violent activities and they have been searching for sites that demonstrate those things. Sometimes this content appears in Amira’s social media feeds and she finds it distressing.

How can Amira avoid being exposed to content she finds upsetting? 

Possible responses:

  • Amira could change her social media settings to see fewer posts from those friends.
  • Amira could use screen time settings to control how much time she spends online and balance this time with other activities she likes doing. 
  • Amira could talk to the school counsellor who could provide suggestions for keeping safe in the situation. 

Teachers can help Amira and other students be prepared to deal with this online risk by:

  • ensuring students feel comfortable talking to a trusted adult to help problem solve strategies for online issues
  • ensuring all students know where to go for help if they feel uncomfortable with a situation
  • actively discouraging dangerous activities - see eSafety's advice about this.
  • discussing the benefits of accessing counselling and support services to discuss strategies for self-care e.g. Kids Helpline, a school counsellor.

Inappropriate content scenarios