Using play-based activities to help young children understand digital technologies

Educator guidanceActivities

Educator information

Children bring their world into their learning environments every day. They share stories about family and friends, their interests and activities, and the last decade has seen them bring stories and experiences with technology. Early learning services do not always need to use connected devices for children to be talking, exploring and playing in ways that help them understand the role of technology in their lives.

Early childhood educators help children learn and develop skills to be confident, capable and safe as they head through childhood and into adulthood. Playing IT Safe has been developed to help educators support children and their families learn about online safety in ways that are appropriate to the child’s age and stage of development.

Playing IT Safe resources have been developed to follow the sequence of Big Ideas found in the Journey resource. This scaffolds the activities so educators can ensure they are meeting children’s needs and can choose additional activities to support specific understandings if they find children are not yet ready for some of the more complex ideas and concepts. Additional information for scaffolding is also provided in a ‘Readiness’ section of each activity.

The activities below are broadly categorised into ‘Infants and Toddlers’ and ‘Pre-school’ allowing educators to incorporate and scaffold learning about core concepts around networked technology in everyday learning experiences. These understandings will prepare children for future online safety programs in primary school and help families create a culture of respect where technology is used in ways that are safe and appropriate.

For further resources and information to help keep children safe online, visit the ThinkUKnow, eSafety and AMF websites.

We would like to thank all the educators and children who helped in the development and trialling of the Playing IT Safe activities.

With the support of Gandel Philanthropy, we will be running a pilot project to support you to implement the Playing IT Safe resources in your early childhood setting. Please register you interest by completing this form.

Educator guidance

The resources below will guide educators on how they can best use the play-based activities. There are a range of options for adapting, scaffolding and shaping the experiences to best meet the learning needs of children and their families.

Download the Playing IT Safe Educator Handbook

Play-based activities

These activities are designed to teach children the safe behaviours and habits to be safe online. Educators are encouraged to print these and incorporate them in planning your learning experiences.


These activities can be used for pre-school aged children who have completed the infants and toddlers activities, and have a basic understanding of digital technology and online safety.

Guess who

An activity to teach children about taking photos, consent and image manipulation.

Classroom pop-ups

An activity to teach children about pop-up content and how to manage unexpected content online.

Pre-school technology plan

An activity to teach children to set rules around the use of technology in pre-school.

Connected home corner

An activity to teach children about network technology and appropriate and safe technology use in a social role play environment.


An activity to introduce children to the concept of passwords.

What is the Internet?

An activity to teach children the concept of digital networks, the internet and Wi-Fi.

Who can help?

An activity to teach children to identify who can help in tricky situations both online and offline.

Book corner

An activity to teach children the idea of connected and shared knowledge online through a creative experience where children can document their knowledge of online experiences and share them with others.

GPS and tracking

An activity to teach children to identify and recognise that digital networks can help navigate to destinations.

How do I feel

An activity to teach children to build their capacity to identify a negative experience and ways to respond.


A collection of A4 printables that support the play-based activities, and engages children in thinking and exploring the way they use technology.

Infants and toddlers

These activities can be used for infants and toddlers as tools to teach and provide a simple and age appropriate understanding of digital technology and online safety.


Building ourselves a robot

An activity for children to explore digital things.


Dance like a digital thing

An activity to help children discover how digital things behave.


Make a digital thing to keep you safe

An activity to explore safety in creative ways.

There are digital things

An activity to help children discover the characteristics of digital things.

Look inside a digital thing

An activity to help children investigate how digital things work and how they are connected.

Playing games on digital things

An activity to support kind behaviour when playing games with others in a digital context.

Sharing our digital things

An activity to encourage kind and positive behaviour when engaging with digital technologies.

Taking a photo

An activity to provide opportunities for children to practice seeking permission when taking photos of others.

What do we do with digital things?

An activity to explore the uses of networked technologies.

Who uses digital things?

An activity for children to investigate how digital technologies are useful to people they know.