Revolutionizing Digital Safety in Estonia: A Journey from Academia to Interactive Learning

by Inger Klesment, University of Tartu, BECID (Baltic Engagement Centre for Combating Information Disorders), Estonia.

As a mother of three and a media literacy specialist, I observed firsthand how traditional lecture-based teaching methods often fail to connect with children’s daily digital experiences. This observation motivated me to create a more relevant and engaging approach to teaching 5- to 10-year-olds digital safety. I developed a series of interactive, completely offline games that better align with how children interact and understand the digital world.

The Genesis of a Game-Changing Idea

While pursuing my master’s degree in Journalism and Communication at the University of Tartu, I became determined to create and test an educational toolkit that resonated with the digital reality of children. Driven by the clear gap between conventional teaching methods and children’s adeptness with technology, I crafted a series of science-based role-playing and movement games. These screen-free activities enhance digital media literacy by leveraging real internet experiences and promote teamwork, mathematical skills, and physical activity.

Given the patchy implementation of media literacy across Estonian schools and learning that young children engage with digital devices well before media literacy is formally introduced in high school, these games act as a vital bridge. They ensure that our youngest students are equipped and not left to navigate the digital world unaided.

A Glimpse into Game-Based Learning Session

Sessions begin with children forming a circle to share and reflect on their recent digital interactions. They choose an emoticon from a selection on the ground that best represents their emotions, sparking discussions and providing insights into their online activities. This method is simple yet powerful.

Continuing with the same printed emoticons, we delve into a dynamic game promoting password security dialogue. Through interactive questioning—’ What is a password?’, ‘Why do we need passwords?’, ‘Is it safe to share passwords?’—children actively learn the importance of secure passwords. They move around, swapping places with peers who know the answers, fostering a lively and inclusive learning environment.

To explain the concept of digital footprints, I use oversized and small boots to symbolize the online activities of toddlers versus adults, helping children visualize how their online actions can leave lasting marks. This activity emphasizes the significance of privacy and the implications of one’s online behavior.

Recognizing Success and Impact

These games’ effectiveness and scalability have been recognized nationally in Estonia and Europe (Voices — European Festival of Journalism and Media Literacy), earning awards validating the power of interactive learning in digital safety education. These accolades honor my work and highlight the potential for broader application in educational systems.

Today, I teach four courses at the University of Tartu, sharing the methodologies and insights gained from these games. My goal is to empower future educators to adopt and adapt these interactive teaching strategies to meet the needs of children in digital realms.

Inger Klesment and Maria Murumaa-Mengel at Estonia’s First Preschool Internet Safety Drill: DigiÄKK, where University of Tartu students led games for over 200 children in one hour.

A Continuing Journey

As the digital landscape perpetually evolves, so does the need for innovative educational methods. The games I’ve developed have been instrumental in enhancing young users’ understanding in a supportive, engaging manner. Recently, these same games formed the basis for Estonia’s First Preschool Internet Safety Drill: DigiÄKK, where University of Tartu students successfully led activities for over 200 children within just one hour. Having already reached over 11,000 children across Estonia and supported by the Estonia Media Literacy Development Plan, my future plans include expanding these initiatives by establishing peer-to-peer learning game groups nationwide. This endeavor will equip children to navigate the digital world safely and confidently.

Discover more offline games at


Inger Klesment, University Lecturer, University of Tartu – BECID (Baltic Engagement Centre for Combating Information Disorders), Estonia.

A passionate advocate for online safety education and a media literacy specialist at BECID.