An Overview of International Cyber-Security Awareness Raising and Educational Initiatives (2011)

Campaign Evaluations – C. An Analysis of Electronic Media to Prepare Children for Safe and Ethical Practices in Digital Environments

Berson, I.R., Berson, M.J., Desai, S., Falls, D., & Fenaughty, J. (2008). ‘An analysis of electronic media to prepare children for safe and ethical practices in digital environments’. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 8(3). <>

Abstract: A range of electronic resources, including video–based instruction, is used to promote cybersafety to young people at school. This evaluation analysed seven distinct programs that use electronic media in Internet safety initiatives in schools. The findings highlight emerging evidence on successful approaches to engage children in assessing risky cybersafety situations, developing appropriate management techniques, and practicing responsible decision making online. Based on the prevention effectiveness literature and the tenets of behaviour decision theory, a rubric was developed to evaluate the effectiveness of online instructional materials in teaching ethical behaviour in digital environments. The rubric demonstrates that high quality cybersafety resources are based on a coherent theoretical framework, integrate multiple program components, and allow for skill rehearsal.
Methodology: The authors of the evaluation consist of university researchers specialising in early childhood education, a teacher and a representative from New Zealand’s NetSafe Internet Safety Group. Seven electronic resources using video-based instruction were evaluated using a six-factor grid. The electronic resources were: BrainPop-Computer Viruses, Disney Surf Swell Island, Hector’s World, iKeepsafe, iSafe, Media Aware and Netsmartz. There were two undisclosed reviewers for each electronic resource rating the following factors:
1) Based on a coherent theoretical framework,
2) Includes active, systematic and specific skill training,
3) Integrates multiple program components (i.e., classroom training combined with parent involvement),
4) Includes interactive instructional techniques,
5) Provides intensive training, and
6) Addresses protective factors as well as risk factors.
Findings: The assessors found that sites which made the assumption that increased knowledge would result in better choices had the less favourable reviews. Sites, however, which were based on theoretical approaches based on critical components that would change children’s behaviour were reviewed more favourably. Hector’s World had the best reviews of all of the resources evaluated.