Youth Internet Safety Education: Aligning Programs With the Evidence Base.

Academic Article


  • BACKGROUND: This review critically examines the messages of youth internet safety education programs in the light of research about both the dynamics of internet dangers and the efficacy of youth prevention education. METHODS: Using terms "internet safety education" and "digital citizenship," a Google search identified 12 multi-topic safety programs. Review articles were identified via Google Scholar for six forms of online harm to youth that have been targeted by many of these programs: cyberbullying (19 articles); online sexual exploitation (23 articles); sexting (19 articles); online fraud, hacking, and identity theft (6 articles); online suicide and self-harm promotion (18 articles); and internet overuse or addiction (15 articles). FINDINGS: There appear to be mismatches between dynamics revealed in the research about internet harms and the messages emphasized in educational programs, particularly on the issues of sexual exploitation and sexting. Overall, the review literature also suggests major advantages to integrating internet safety into already well-established and evidence-based programs currently addressing related off-line harms, for example, programs focusing on general bullying, dating abuse, or sexual abuse prevention. The advantages stem from four factors: (1) the considerable overlap between online harms and similar off-line harms, (2) the apparent greater prevalence of off-line harms, (3) the evidence that the same risk factors lie behind both online and off-line harms, and most importantly, (4) the substantially superior evidence base for the longer standing programs developed originally around the off-line harms.
  • Authors

  • Finkelhor, David
  • Walsh, Kerryann
  • Jones, Lisa
  • Mitchell, Kimberly
  • Collier, Anne
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • December 2021
  • Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Bullying
  • Citizenship
  • Cyberbullying
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Sex Offenses
  • cybersafety
  • digital citizenship
  • online safety
  • technology education
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 32242503
  • Start Page

  • 1233
  • End Page

  • 1247
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 5