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

Unwanted contact and grooming: 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: Let’s play

Name: Mandy

Age: 7

Mandy has started playing an online game that includes chatting with people she doesn’t know outside of the game It’s fun and her big brothers do it all the time so she thinks it must be safe. The game has an age recommendation of 7+.

Is it safe for Mandy to chat with people she doesn’t know in the game? When should she stop playing?

Possible responses:

  • According to the game rules it is OK for Mandy to play because it is available for players over 7.
  • Mandy should not be chatting to strangers because the game rules say that under 13s should not participate in open chatting.
  • Mandy should change the game settings so she can chat in a private group or ‘party’ of ‘friends’ and she should only accept friend requests from people she knows offline.
  • Mandy should stop playing if anyone in the game behaves in a way that is inappropriate for her age.

Teachers can help Mandy and other students be prepared for this online risk by:

  • discussing social media and gaming age restrictions and the benefits and risks of using social media and games 
  • showing students how they can develop skills to prepare for using social media and games that have chat/messaging, including making sure only real friends can chat with them
  • letting students know that if they feel uncomfortable in any way they should stop playing and tell a trusted adult
  • organising opportunities to play in safe, moderated, age appropriate spaces - for example including gaming activities like Minecraft: Education Edition in class
  • demonstrating how to collect evidence, report and block users on social media.

Scenario 2: Duet

Name: Raffi

Age: 13

Raffi has been invited to duet with a stranger on a singing app. They love the same singer.  Raffi’s duet partner then invites her to sing a song with very adult themes. She loves the song but would be embarrassed and thinks she will get in trouble if anyone in her family was sent the link to view it.

What things should Raffi consider before she accepts the invitation?

Possible responses:

  • Raffi should stop and listen to her feelings. If she feels uncomfortable, she should problem solve with a trusted adult about the situation. 
  • Raffi should think about what she knows about the person. Who are they? How does she know them? How old are they?
  • Can she be sure the information they have given about themselves is not fake?
  • Raffi should think about how she would feel if her family saw her singing this song. 

Teachers can help Raffi and other students be prepared for this online risk by:

  • explicitly including online safety in child protection/personal safety lessons
  • helping young people recognise typical grooming behaviours so they can better protect themselves online
  • showing students how to set up their device for safety, including controlling who can see information they post.

Scenario 3: We match

Name: Andy

Age: 17

Andy has been finding it hard to find someone to date. No one seems interested in him at his school and he is quite shy. His friend suggests using a dating app. He is surprised to find a match on his first day.

What protective measures should Andy think about before he gets involved?

Possible responses:

  • Andy needs to think about whether he is comfortable talking to someone he has never met.
  • Andy needs to consider what he could share that will not compromise his safety.
  • Andy needs to know if he can verify who the other person is.
  • Andy needs to seek out a support network who can help him. 
  • Andy should not meet this person without considering the best ways to keep himself safe. 

Teachers can help Andy and other students be prepared for this online risk by:

  • explicitly including online safety examples in respectful relationships/child protection/personal safety lessons
  • helping young people recognise issues such as catfishing so they can better protect themselves online
  • creating a safe and respectful school environment so students feel comfortable discussing these types of issues
  • investigating wellbeing and support services for young people as part of the Health and Physical Education curriculum and wellbeing and pastoral care lessons
  • explaining that how we present ourselves online carries benefits and risks
  • discussing the laws that govern online behaviour and how they inform what is acceptable or legal (e.g. sending nudes or sexting, trolling, harassment and stalking).

Unwanted contact and grooming scenarios