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Every year, children spend more and more time on the Internet.

#stop_sexting conducted a study on the effectiveness of the organization’s educational campaign

A new #stop_sexting research confirmed the growing trend of children’s online time: for example, students in grades 6–8 (children aged 11–14) spend 3 or more hours a day on the Internet. In addition, children identify the following top 5 categories of main risks online: unpleasant or offensive messages, questions about where you live, a friendship offer from a stranger, an offer to open an unknown link, and a request to send a photo or video.

In 2021, a study of the effectiveness of the #stop_sexting educational campaign was launched together with the Department of Social Rehabilitation and Social Pedagogy of the Faculty of Psychology of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, with the support of the World Childhood Foundation, with the aim of finding out whether #stop_sexting lessons have an impact on knowledge and skills of children, whether this effect is sustainable, and also what key recommendations can be given to all those who develop preventive programs for school-age children within the educational school system in Ukraine and abroad.

The research was based on a mixed design and included document analysis, in-depth interviews of children, focused group interviews of teachers, and a questionnaire survey of children before and after participating in the #stop_sexting lessons. 

The main results of the #stop_sexting lessons:

According to the study, children are better aware of the probability of events on the Internet that will have a negative impact on their lives, and better identify risk situations. In addition, they recognize that Internet users are responsible for their online behavior. Along with this, children are more willing to support those who have faced online violence or other negative experiences on the Internet. Children know more about whom to turn to in the event of a dangerous situation on the Internet.

A year after the lessons, the children demonstrate compliance with the specified rules and readiness to support other children who may find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Key recommendations for teaching children about Internet safety:

As part of the study, recommendations were identified for the development and implementation of lessons aimed at forming preventive skills in children regarding sexual violence and exploitation on the Internet, countering other risks in the digital environment:

  • Lessons should be regular (1-2 times a year), because children tend to overestimate their own competence in online behavior.
  • It is necessary to provide support for children after the lesson, for example, to conduct additional practicals (setting up security and privacy by children on their own gadgets and in social network profiles as part of a computer science lesson).
  • Work on creating greater awareness of online safety among parents.
  • The content of the curriculum should correspond to the age characteristics of children and their current needs in education about security in the digital environment.
  • It is worth combining various forms of interactive learning methods (games, reviewing materials, discussions, etc.) within the lesson.
  • Preliminary preparation of the teacher for conducting lessons is necessary, which includes both familiarization with the methodological materials of the educational program and their approbation, as well as the passing of educational webinars by teachers. 
  • One of the important conclusions of the study: the format of the lesson (online or live) does not affect the effectiveness.
  • In addition, it is necessary to inform children about the topic of the lesson before it is held. According to the children themselves, this will help them participate more actively in exercises and discussions during the lesson.

The full text, illustrations, and graphs of the study, as well as recommendations, can be found at the link: