Safety and Well-being

[Last updated: May 2020]

Safety and Well-being: The ability to counteract the risks that the digital world may come with to protect one’s physical and mental well-being (e.g., guarding against Internet addiction and repetitive stress syndrome). Online risks can be classified along three main dimensions: conduct (e.g., cyberbullying, sexual harassment/unwelcome “sexting”); contact (e.g., face-to-face meeting after online contact, communication with individuals pretending to be another person); and content (e.g., exposure to pornographic content, violent or aggressive content, harmful speech, content about drugs, racist content) (Livingstone, Kirwall, Ponte, & Staksrud, 2014).

While bullying, more broadly, is an age-old problem that has been the focus of research and intervention for several decades, bullying in an online world raises new challenges.  While some forms of online bullying are similar to certain types of offline bullying, such as gossiping and social exclusion,bullying in the digital landscape can take new forms, including impersonation, hacking into others’ accounts, or spreading photos and videos online (Harvard Law School, 2016). Additionally, the notion of “repeated” harm attached to offline bullying must be reconceptualized in the digital landscape.

Youth and Cyberbullying: Another Look, which serves as an addendum to our 2012 Bullying in a Networked Era: A Literature Review, provides an overview of recent, primarily academic literature on youth and cyberbullying. The paper seeks to examine the changing landscape of bullying while acknowledging the convergence between the online and offline world. It explores the nuances around defining cyberbullying and the prevalence of online bullying in and beyond the U.S., and presents practical, impactful guidance on preventing and responding to cyberbullying.and examines how various stakeholders can prevent and mitigate this form of harmful behavior in light of emerging research.

Flagship publications:

Key learning resources:

These learning resources are available in over 35 languages! To view the translations, for each resource, please scroll down to “All Languages.” Additional languages will be added over time.

To learn about how to navigate our Digital Citizenship+ (Plus) Resource Platform — home to an evolving collection of 100+ educational tools (e.g., learning experiences, visualizations, podcasts) that can be used to learn and teach about youth’s digitally connected lives — please see the following slidedeck, presented at RightsCon Tunis 2019. The presentation also offers helpful tips in terms of adapting the tools to your context.

Other publications:

Selected presentations:

(For more information, please email Sandra Cortesi.)

  • February 2020: Keynote, “Well-being in a Digital Age”, Safer Internet Day, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • May 2019: Guest lecturer, “Jugendliche Online —  Offline.” Wie gelingt die Balance? Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Lucerne, Switzerland
  • October 2016: Keynote, “The Positive and Negative Aspects of the Internet: Bullying in a Digital Age”, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
  • April 2016: Panel, “Creating a Kinder World Together: How to Combat Cyberbullying,” Harvard Law School, Cambridge, USA