Empowering Digital Citizens: A Deep Dive into the 4C’s of Online Safety

4C's of online safety for children

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Quick Summary

  • 4C Standards for Online Safety: Provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and addressing online risks faced by children. Content, Contact, Conduct, and Contract serve as guidelines for internet safety for parents and digital citizens.
  • Classifying Online Risks: Classifying risks aids in determining priorities, developing specific solutions, and enhancing education and awareness. Effective monitoring and filtering systems can be established for different risk categories.
  • Other Online Risks: Acknowledges the evolving nature of technology and the need for continuous reevaluation of online safety.
  • Nutcracker: Features include screen time limitations, online activity monitoring, and content suggestions tailored to children’s ages. Aims to assist parents in safeguarding their children from various internet risks.

4C's of online safety for children

In an era dominated by technology, ensuring online safety for kids has become paramount. As digital citizens, understanding the principles of online safety is crucial for keeping our loved ones. Therefore, we will share with you information about internet safety for parents and adults. In this deep dive, we will explore the 4C’s of online safety for children, shedding light on their significance, and delving into the measures that empower us in the digital realm.

What are the 4C’s of online safety?

The 4C’s of online safety is a categorization designed to classify the risks children and teens may face on the internet. It is a useful reference for adults looking for online safety tips. In 2009, EU Kids Online introduced a comprehensive classification of online risks about children’s online safety with the aim of addressing prevalent inquiries about children’s online safety. This classification system was developed to deconstruct risks and draw attention to the diverse spectrum of challenges faced by children in the digital realm. By disaggregating risks as 3C’s online safety, the initiative sought to shed light on the multitude of online threats affecting children.

Today, with the widespread use of the internet, online safety facts have changed. The emergence of new risks with the widespread use of the internet has caused a new class to be added to the categorization. Now let’s explore the 4C’s of online safety in detail!


The first risk group in the 4C’s of online safety classification is content. The risks associated with a child’s exposure to internet content that is unsuitable for their age and may potentially impact their development fall under this category. These inappropriate contents can manifest in diverse contexts, ranging from violent images to messages containing hate speech. These content-related risks are an important factor for parents to pay attention to when it comes to cyber safety for kids. Now let’s look at the key content risks together!

  • Sexual content and pornography
  • Violent content
  • Inappropriate advertisements
  • Content containing racism, discrimination, or hate speech
  • Content promoting dangerous behaviors related to self-harm


It is a platform that caters to individuals ranging from 7 to 70 in the online realm, exposing children to potential risks from online predators. The foundation of this category lies in the risk of adults engaging in inappropriate communication with a child. Such inappropriate communication may encompass the following intentions:

  • Making sexual proposals
  • Guiding the child toward unhealthy behaviors that may harm themselves
  • Radicalizing the child

online contact internet risks for kids


Another risk in the 4C’s of online safety classification is conduct. Risks in this classification involve situations that may emerge due to the child’s own actions. Conduct risks encompass behaviors such as the creation of age-inappropriate and risky content by children, as well as engaging in harmful communication. The following examples illustrate the risks falling within this category:

  • A child engaging in cyberbullying against another child
  • Producing content that promotes racism and discrimination
  • Publishing sexually explicit and graphic images


The final stage of the 4C’s of online safety concluded in 2018 with the establishment of the contract risks group. This group signifies “contractual risks that directly or indirectly link children and digital providers.” In today’s landscape, where personal data is utilized for commercial purposes, this category holds significant importance for internet safety for kids and teenagers.

Contract risks arise when a child, whether intentionally or unintentionally, agrees to the Terms of Service of a digital product or service provider. These agreements have the potential to subject the child to terms that may be unfair, exploitative, or pose security, safety, or privacy risks, of which they may not be fully aware.

What are the 3C’s of Cyber Safety?

The classification of the 3C’s of cyber safety is an approach that emerged from research studies conducted in 2010, 2017, and 2019. The objective is to categorize internet risks for children. In collaboration with EU Kids Online, this research involved surveys administered to over 40,000 children who are internet users from 35 different countries. The findings of these studies determined that the 3C’s of online safety are categorized as content, contact, and conduct. Later, with the addition of contract risk to the categorization, the concept turned into the 4C’s of online safety.

How Do 4C Standards Help Online Safety?

4C’s of online safety play a crucial role in enhancing online safety by providing a comprehensive framework to understand and address the diverse risks faced by children in the digital landscape. Based on this categorization, internet safety rules can be determined. These standards, which encompass Content, Contact, Conduct, and Contract, serve as an internet safety handbook for both parents and digital citizens in navigating the complexities of the online world.

Importance of Classification of Online Risks to Children

Classification of Online Risks to Children

Classifying risks contributes to the effective development and implementation of online security strategies. It is possible to use this categorization as internet safety tips. Below, you can find positive impacts that classification can add to taking precautions against risks:

  • Classifying risks helps in determining priorities. It enables us to create urgent action plans for significant risks that children may encounter.
  • Each risk category requires a different approach and solution. For instance, content-related risks may be addressed using filtering and educational strategies, while communication risks may require increased supervision and parental guidance. Classification facilitates the process of developing and implementing specific solutions.
  • Classifying risks supports efforts to enhance education and awareness. Users can become more conscious and prepared against specific risk categories. Parents, teachers, and other adults can provide more specific information to children about the risks they need to be cautious about.
  • Classification assists in establishing more effective monitoring and filtering systems. Focusing on specific risk categories allows for the implementation of more specific and effective security measures. This makes it easier to control content, communication, and behavioral risks.

Are There Any Other Online Risks for Children Besides 4C Classification?

The swift evolution of technology necessitates a continuous reevaluation of internet safety for children and teenagers. With each new development, internet risks continue to diversify and escalate. Consequently, asserting that the 4C’s of online safety comprehensively represent all the risks that children may encounter on the internet may prove challenging.

Cross-Cutting Online Risks for Children

The concept of cross-cutting risks, as proposed by the OECD, is employed to address several risks that extend beyond the 4C categorization. The primary risks that fall outside the 4C’s of online safety classification include:

  • Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Risks related to privacy violations
  • Risks to physical and mental health and well-being
  • Issues of inequality and discrimination

Families whose children are safe online

Nutcracker: Protects Your Children Against Online Risks

Nutcracker contains protection measures for all risks mentioned in the 4C’s of online safety categorization. It is a comprehensive parental control system equipped with advanced features, including screen time limitations and online activity monitoring, among others. Its purpose is to assist you in safeguarding your children from internet risks.

Upon initiating the use of Nutcracker, you gain access to inspiring suggestions for quality time spent with your child. Additionally, you have the opportunity to enhance your digital literacy by exploring our content, which expands your knowledge about internet safety. Benefit from smart content suggestions tailored to the age of your children and more! Download our app now to begin utilizing these unique features offered by Nutcracker!