Guest blog 11-12 – Esra Girgin on dealing with cyber-dangers

My latest guest blogger is Esra Girgin. Esra is one of the many Turkish ELT teachers who are making a name for themselves outside their own country, attending international conferences and presenting their ideas to a wider audience.

I asked Esra to write something for me the last time we met, at IATEFL Brighton. Before she sent me this piece about internet safety, she said she was worried it was maybe too similar to a recent post here by Nic Peachey. (

The subject IS similar, but I think you will agree that Esra has some important things to say.

Esra and her daughter


Dear Reader,

My name is Esra Girgin Akiskali and I have been teaching English to young and very young learners for eight years. I really enjoy teaching young learners since they are all so natural and never pretend. If you teach young students, you have to be energetic, enthusiastic and innovative, which means being tech savvy. But when their natural behaviour and willingness to use technology combine, I can’t help asking “Are they safe enough?”.

I would like to discuss internet safety and things we should or shouldn’t do. I know it’s not a pleasant subject but it should be highlighted for our students’ psychological and also physical security and health. While preparing this blog post, I stumbled upon a short film that horrified me both as a parent and a teacher. Here’s what I am talking about:

What you have just seen is not only a scenario, it is what may happen if we as teachers or as parents don’t take online safety seriously. If we can teach our students or children not to talk and share anything private with strangers in real life, we can teach them not to do so in the virtual world.

According to research, most parents think that internet safety is about protecting kids from seeing inappropriate images and videos (especially the ones that contain sex). But there are many other dangerous possibilities such as racist material, or detailed information on how to make a bomb.

In addition to these, a child can talk and become friends with strangers who might have ill intentions; or even cyber-bullied by their class/school mates.

Some facts that were recently published on are as follows:

● One in four children who use the Internet are exposed to unwanted sexual material.
● 70 percent of sexual advances over the Internet happened while youngsters are on a home computer.
● One in five kids ages 10-17 have been propositioned for cybersex.
● 21 percent of teens say they have looked at something on the internet that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about.

We teachers are responsible for children’s social, cognitive and personal development as well as teaching the subjects in our lesson plans. We must be aware that while preparing them for real life, we have to protect them against threats that may exist both in real life and online. But how? Well, there has been a lot of research done so far and experts have quite a lot of advice on the matter.

First of all, you should have a good relationship and communication with the child. Tell the child that if they think there’s something wrong online, they should immediately come and tell you whatever the situation is. Good relationships and trust will prevent anything that is not desired from happening.

But keep in mind that the child should know that you check and observe what is going on online. If you follow your children closely, you may be able to observe their authentic online behaviour.
Another common solution is to get an effective internet filter that will help you manage internet access, keep illegal file-sharing away and will let you know all about the chats your kids are having.

Even with all the filtering, children can still stumble on harmful content. You cannot ensure that the child is safe at all with filtering, monitoring and moderation. Teaching children how to avoid potential risks and to stay safe online are vital issues to be considered. Whether or not you use anything online, you should include “internet safety” into your lesson plan to make children conscious of potential risks and dangers.

There are many options to put the subject into your lesson plan but my favourite one is Kim and Lee’s Adventure which is a digital story about online safety. The story is based on a lesson plan that you can easily download resources, posters, activity sheet and etc. from

There are “Top Tips to Remember” in Lee and Kim’s Adventure:

Tip 1- People you don’t know are strangers. They are not always who they say they are.
Tip 2- Be nice to people online, like you are in the playground.
Tip 3- Keep your personal information private. Don’t give away secrets like where you live or the school you go to.
Tip 4- If you ever get that “Uh-oh!” feeling, you should tell an adult you trust.

There are also teacher/parent-friendly sites where you can find resources, download materials and watch tutorials online. Here are some of them:

BBC: The site aims to help you use the internet in a safe way. It links to sites that are kept up-to-date with useful information, along with explanations and helpful hints for you and your family to get the most out of the internet.

BE SAFE ONLINE: Advice and information about Internet safety for parents and teachers, plus opportunities to discuss problems and share solutions. The guidance is intended to make adults more aware of how to use the Internet safely, so that they can encourage safe behaviour online among children and young people.

BLOG SAFETY: It is a forum where parents, teens, educators, and experts discuss and learn about safe blogging and social networking. You might call this social networking about the social networks.

THINK U KNOW: A guide to internet safety and safe surfing for young people. Learn about online safety when using blogs, chatting, online gaming, P2P and other forms of technology like mobiles.

CHAT DANGER: A site all about the potential dangers on interactive services online like chat, IM, online games, email and on mobiles.

CYBER NETRIX & CYBER QUOLL: CyberNetrix is an internet safety resource for secondary school students where CyberQuall is for upper primary school students, provided by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA’s cybersafety activities aim to give children, and their parents and carers, sound advice on how best to manage online risks, so their experiences are safe and positive. Teachers are advised to review this resource to ensure it is suitable for, and relevant to, their students.

DIGIZEN: The Digizen website provides information for educators, parents, carers, and young people. It is used to strengthen their awareness and understanding of what digital citizenship is and encourages users of technology to be and become responsible DIGItal citiZENS. It shares specific advice and resources on issues such as social networking and cyber-bullying and how these relate to and affect their own and other people’s online experiences and behaviours.

FKBKO : It provides a range of e-safety information for children and young people, covering the web, email, chat, viruses, peer-to-peer, mobiles.

CYBER SMART: The site is designed to help children and whole families find out how to be cyber-smart and use the Internet safely.

The list could go on and on but I believe keeping an open dialogue with children and teens and being a good observer of their online presence will provide a safer and cleaner cyber-environment. “Little Red Riding Hood” is an old but still very good story to tell. Always remember not to trust strangers even though they are friendly because you may never know when they could turn into a wolf and eat you…

Esra (third from right) and other twitter-folk who attended my talk at IATEFL Brighton

6 thoughts on “Guest blog 11-12 – Esra Girgin on dealing with cyber-dangers

  1. As both a teacher and a parent, reading this post was not only thought (and awareness) provoking but a great help with all the useful links to help us protect our students – and our own children.

    I’ve come to think that I’ve been a bit too naive on the whole internet safety issue, especially with my daughter. There’ll be changes I can assure you!

    Thank you Esra for such an interesting post on a very current topic. Thanks for sharing!!

    And Ken, thank you for having such wonderful guest bloggers!


  2. Well done Esra.. This is really useful and it is smth i have never thought about since I am not a Mom or a teacher of younger learners perhaps.. Thanks for bringing it into my attention.

    And thanks Ken for hosting this lovely person and considerate educator.

    1. Dear Burcu,
      Thank you for your comment. I think it is not only about our kids’ or students’, but also about our very own online safety. I hope the post is informative and useful.

  3. Esra thank you so much for such an insightful and up to date post. I’ll think about the points you made not only when working with my students but also my daughter.
    Thank you:) Ania

    1. Dear Ania,
      Thank you for reading the post. I believe making people conscious of the danger and telling them the ways to stay away from it, is better than censorship -which is a big deal nowadays in Turkey:(

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