To understand what online risks are, it is important to make a distinction between online risk and online harm. When online risks are mentioned, it means that the risk can potentially be harmful to children. However, it is not certain that a child will necessarily experience harmful consequences when exposed to online risks.
"Harm means a negative consequence for a child’s emotional, psychical, or mental wellbeing." Livingstone, S. (2013).
The type of harmful outcomes and their severity will depend, among other things, on the child’s ability to cope with risks and the nature of the risk . This means that different children exposed to the same or similar types of risks can be affected in different ways depending on factors such as the child’s age, personality traits, gender, socio-economic status or digital literacy. Societal factors, such as norms and regulations, education, and family systems, also play a role in children’s ability to cope with online risks. For instance, children with psychological difficulties or who already face other difficulties in their lives can also be more vulnerable to suffering increased harm from online risks .
Furthermore, the design, regulation, and management of the digital world are also crucial in the protection of children from harm. For instance, the lack of effective laws and regulations that protect children and their rights in the digital world can increase the harmfulness of online risks. However, it is important to consider that some risky experiences can help children become resilient  because they can provide the chance to acquire coping skills necessary to minimise or prevent experiences of harm in the future.
What types of online risks exist?
As outlined in the figure below, there are different types of online risks and ways of classifying them. For instance, the CO:RE project classifies and defines online risks  as follows:
Content risks are risks that occur when a child engages with or is exposed to potentially harmful content such as violent or sexual content.
Contact risks occur when a child experiences or is targeted by potentially harmful adult contact, such as online stalking.
Conduct risks is when a child witnesses, participates in or is a victim of potentially harmful peer conduct, such as cyberbullying.
Contract risks is when a child is party to or exploited by potentially harmful contract, that includes risks such as fraud, security risks or marketing strategies such as micro-targeting.
Cross-cutting risks refer those risks that do not fit into one single category, for instance, privacy violations or risks to mental health and wellbeing.