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The course

@FirstSite covers digital content and the impact it can have on young people: their confidence, relationships, self-esteem and view of the world – both negative and positive. It has been developed with 11-14 year olds in mind and has been developed to fit in with the typical classroom approach.

It has eight parts, with each taking approximately 45 minutes to deliver. Included are presentations, worksheets, and teacher’s notes. The first part introduces ideas and concepts which are then explored and expanded upon over the rest of the course, with the last lesson tying the course together.

Each part is given a brief explanation and introduction below and illustrated by one of the slides for that part.

1. What is sexual content online?

What’s the difference between sexual and sexualized content and how does it impact young people?

This introductory activity explores what online sexual content is and how it may affect young people’s views of themselves and the relationships they have. 

It introduces the concept of sexualised content (images that are inappropriately and/or overly sexual) versus sexual content (images targeted at adults), and encourages reflection over what that means.

2. The media and body image

How do the images people see affect their view of their own and others’ bodies?

This lesson reflects on the kind of images young people see online and how that can affect the way they see their own and others’ bodies. 

It explores the term “body image” by looking at: how different people are portrayed both on social media and in ads; how sexiness is used to sell products; and how body image varies across cultures and generations. 

A video of young people turns the topic personal when they confess their own body image insecurities, and the lesson ends with an uplifting exercise.

3. The media and celebrities

What is the impact of celebrity culture, perfect images and social media on young people?

We move the previous lesson on body image forward by exploring how different types of people are portrayed – and compare it to reality. 

Celebrity culture and social media often create an unrealistic, almost perfect, image of people’s lives that young people can feel the need to emulate. Slides showing Before and After pictures highlight the effort that goes into creating the perfect shot. 

Learners are encouraged to reflect on what they see online and how it affects young people’s view of their own and other’s bodies. The final exercise asks them to consider ways to improve the situation.

4. Fantasy versus reality

How does the portrayal of sex online affect how young people feel about themselves and their relationships?

Sex and sexual imagery is readily available online and easy to access. This lesson explores how much of that content, and particularly pornography, paints an unrealistic version of sex. 

If it is unrealistic, why does it exist? And why does society feel so strongly about how sex is portrayed? This lesson digs into those questions. A factual quiz then helps students consider the broader context, and starts the conversation over what the potential impact of this type of sexual content may be on young people’s relationships.

5. Sex and relationships online

What is healthy and unhealthy behaviour when it comes to romantic relationships?

This lesson takes a look at sex and relationships, and how online content can distort young people’s views of both. Firm discussion rules are introduced before we look at what exists within healthy and unhealthy relationships. The focus moves to consent and, in an unambiguous way, what that means. 

Pornography can often serve as a young person’s first understanding of what sex looks like. A worksheet helps identify learners’ attitudes toward pornography and so helps guide a second worksheet and discussion which considers how pornography can be instructive when it comes to how sex works, but doesn’t reflect a real or healthy relationship.

6. Protecting your image

How can young people ensure the images they share don’t put them at risk?

The ability to take and share photographs instantly is an extraordinary achievement of the digital age but when it comes to personal images, young people need to consider the potential impact, especially if those images can be considered sexual. 

This lesson walks students through a series of scenarios around the sharing of personal photographs and asks them to consider risks associated with each. They then watch and discuss a video about sexting.

To finish, we dig into the different categories that exist around sharing personal images and come up with ideas to avoid making mistakes. 


7. Things you can and can’t do online

Where does the law stand on sexual content
and what are the implications?

This lesson focuses on how sexual content is viewed through the lens of the law. The bulk of it comprises a quiz in which learners look at what they can and can’t do online, with clear explanations provided for each question.

That understanding is then taken forward through a worksheet and discussion in which students are asked to consider the risks that comes with sharing content and what changes they would like to see to deal with them.

8. Your digital world

How can we make future online experiences
healthier and safer for young people?

This activity encourages learners to develop their own approach to online safety, building on what they have learnt throughout the course, highlighting key lessons and putting a structure around them.

They will revisit previous activities and discussions and work together to come up with an overall understanding for how to deal with digital content that should make their future online experiences healthier and safer.