‘Maddie is Online’: a creative learning path to ethics of online safety and security for young people

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This project explores the ethics of online safety and security, by means of engaging young people with the technical and behavioural strategies that protect personal data and the data of others against compromise.

Funding Body
Scottish Government
Digital Xtra Fund
Award Value
Start Date
April 2022
End Date
March 2023
1 year


‘Maddie is online’ develops accessible cartoon animation education resources for schools and parents, focusing on the digital citizenship skills of young people (aged 9-12-year-old) to navigate safely, effectively and ethically their online environments.

Currently in ‘Maddie is Online’ there are three available series on the project blog:

  • Maddie is Online’ Series 1 - Online Resilience, which focuses on online resilience and safety and consists of 8 short episodes that engage young people in a cartoon story of online bullying.
  • ‘Maddie is Online’ Series 2 - Misinformation, which aims to teach children the importance of managing online information and particularly information evaluation. It deals with fake news and misinformation.
  • ‘Maddie is Online’ Series 3 - Copyright, which explores strategies for protecting personal content and crediting the rights of others, addressing Creative Commons Licenses.

The ‘Maddie is Online’ project has been previously funded by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIF funding 2020) and the Robert Gordon Innovation Accelerator

This new project addresses the difficult dilemmas and the ethical questions that can be raised when interacting online, teaching young people, via active participation and creativity, the ethics of online safety and security. The project uses storytelling, digital animation technology and character voice-overs to increase young people’s engagement and participation around challenging phenomena that deal with online connectivity.


The project involves a school competition, a programme of online workshops on online safety, security and careers in digital animation. Creative student teams (third level - S1 and S2) from schools across Scotland are invited to share a short story of around 500 words on the theme ‘Ethics of online safety and security’.  Selected teams are supported to develop their written stories into animated stories.

School Competition

The competition addresses the 5 main themes:

Theme 1 - Online Data Security

  • setting up strong passwords
  • protecting personal data/information online
  • keeping devices up-to-date and backing up data

Theme 2 - The Internet of Things

  • how different devices can collect and share data about people with or without their knowledge

Theme 3 - Understanding online terms and conditions

  • making safe and age appropriate choices of online tools, apps and services
  • browsing the Internet safely, e.g., online consent, understanding digital cookies

Theme 4 - Identifying online scams/phishing and fraudulent websites and digital messages

  • how a device - computer, laptop, webcams, phones etc. can get hacked

Theme 5 - Private and Personal Information

  • data handling and privacy
  • online behaviours that may result in risk of harm to others
  • private versus public ideas of personal data on social media

Project Leader

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