Teaching internet safety is about making ”good digital citizens”, Twizel Area School head of department digital technology Michele O’Carroll said.
Helping make “good digital citizens” is of great importance to Twizel Area School, one of the organisations signed up with Netsafe to mark Safer Internet Day.
Tuesday is Safer Internet Day, a global event which has been hosted in New Zealand by Netsafe since 2014, with partners including Netflix, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Noel Leeming, Countdown, Youthline, Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Justice and Department of Internal Affairs.
“It’s a technology world, we’re not getting away from it, there’s only going to be more and more,” Twizel Area School head of department digital technology Michele O’Carroll said.
“So it’s not about necessarily restricting their [student’s] use, it’s making them good digital citizens, understanding what good use means, understanding that once it’s out there it’s out there and they can’t retrieve it so just be very careful.”
Netsafe research shows one in five New Zealand teenagers, and one in 10 New Zealand adults, were harmed by something they experienced online in the previous year and in many cases people were unable to eat or sleep because of it.
Over the next few days O’Carroll and her colleagues will be teaching Netsafe safer internet resources to students but she said it is not a one-off event.
“We have digital technology classes that run from year seven to year 13 and quite often throughout the year we review safety procedures – it could be cyber bullying, it could be keeping themselves safe, it could be scams,” O’Carroll said.
“We have set units but if something comes up in the media I’ll bring it back into class and we’ll review it again, it’s not a once a year thing its constantly happening.”
Young people can easily forget the content or can get caught up in peer pressure so it’s important to keep reminding them and to work closely with parents so that the students are given the same messages at home, she said.
“At the beginning of the year, or when they enrol, every student will sign, or if they’re under the age of year six their parents will sign, an acceptable user policy which covers their use of technology within our school,” she said.
“It needs to be a partnership with the parents, ensuring that at home they are aware of what their children are using the internet for and who they are chatting to online. There is a lot we can’t control from school so it’s a partnership to make sure we are keeping our young people as safe as we can.”
A record number of organisations have signed up to Safer Internet Day this year including schools, charities and community groups participating in a number of ways from sharing Netsafe resources to hosting events and discussions.
“Digital challenges, such as online bullying, scams, privacy breaches and harmful digital communications can affect anybody at any time,” Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker said.
“The internet gives us opportunities we’ve never had before with more and more on offer by the day. But with these advances come challenges and when things go wrong, their impact is all too real.”
The key messages of Safer Internet Day 2020 are to protect your information with secure passwords; familiarise yourself with the privacy settings on the social media platforms you use and think twice about what you post; question the online media you consume and think about whether it is relaible; and report bullying, abuse and harassment to Netsafe.
Netsafe is also urging open discussion about internet safety, particularly with young people.
Netsafe offer a free, confidential, impartial service to help with online challenges. Translation services are available. Contact 0508 638 723, email firstname.lastname@example.org, text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282 or make a report at netsafe.org.nz.