The digital landscape is constantly evolving, so while the internet provides students with wonderful opportunities to learn and grow, it can also expose them to new dangers that we may not be fully aware of. It’s become more important than ever to become familiar and reevaluate the tools we have to protect students from harm on the internet, such as the 4C’s of online safety. 

This is the first blog post in our series exploring the 4C’s, where we will explore the first C — content. 

What are the 4C’s of online safety? I thought there were three areas of risk? 

The three areas of risk in online safety are content, contact, and conduct. The 4C’s used to be 3, but the fourth (contract, also known as commerce), is a new, recommended addition.  

What is online content risk? 

According to CO:RE¹, online content risk is when a “child engages with or is exposed to potentially harmful content. This can be violent, gory content, hateful or extremist content, as well as pornographic or sexualized content that may be illegal or harmful, including by being age inappropriate. Content online may be mass-produced or user-generated (including by the child), and it may be shared widely or not.” 

Harmful online content is on the rise. According to the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) and their 2020 annual report, a growing number of children are being targeted by online predators. A total of 153,369 URLs displayed child sexual abuse imagery, which appeared across 5,590 domains and were traced to 59 countries (13% increase from 2019). 

What are the consequences for neglecting e safety and inappropriate internet use? 

Engaging with or being exposed to harmful content can take a significant toll on a student’s mental health. Besides affecting their schoolwork, students engaging in harmful content online can suffer from mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. 

How do you promote online safety? 

Download our whitepapers to learn more about how you can help students navigate the online world safely. 

Cyberbullying: The Effects of Online Harms 

Children and Mental Health — The Growing Challenge 

How can we keep students safe online? 

nFilter, part of the Netsweeper platform, protects students from harmful content such as self-harm, child sexual exploitation, substance abuse, cyberbullying, and more by analyzing, filtering, and blocking in real-time using AI technology. Whether they are learning in the classroom or remotely, educators can rest assured knowing their students are protected.


  1. Livingstone, S., & Stoilova, M. (2021). The 4Cs: Classifying Online Risk to Children. (CO:RE Short Report Series on Key Topics). Hamburg: Leibniz-Institut für Medienforschung | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI); CO:RE – Children Online: Research and Evidence.