Today is Safer Internet Day (SID) in New Zealand, run by NetSafe in partnership with CORE Education, and supported by a large number of New Zealand organisations including New Zealand Police and Vodafone.
While SID is celebrated worldwide, Karen Melhuish Spencer, Senior Consultant eLearning at CORE says cybersafety is particularly relevant to New Zealand students.
“We are in an environment in which schools are largely self-managing and need access to clear information and guidance to help them make the best decisions for their communities.
“As New Zealand schools and kura join the managed network and offer increasing access to online technologies, it is vital that cybersafety is woven through careful planning and meaningful learning,” she says.
To mark SID this year, Netsafe has published a report outlining the digital challenges that New Zealanders faced last year. According to the report, more than one in ten of the 8000 incidents handled by Netsafe last year involved bullying or online harassment. NetSafe says it recorded over 1000 privacy-related reports during last year alone.
In addition to Netsafe’s SID website with its array of activities for schools and communities, CORE have also developed a number of resources to support schools in delivering the cybersafety message.
Melhuish Spencer says this message should begin at early childhood education.
“For very young children, while they are unlikely to be on the Internet regularly, and certainly not on their own, it is important that tools are used to keep them safe and model purposeful use in the context of learning and play.”
Netsafe’s ‘Learn Guide Protect’ model emphasises the fact that younger children need greater support and protection as they use digital technologies, evolving into guidance and more opportunities for independence as they grow and mature.
“The focus this year is on making sure that, instead of fear-based messages about the internet, cybersafety is a regular part of learning conversations and a meaningful dimension in the way young people used digital technologies for learning,” says Melhuish Spencer.
Safer Internet Day website can be found here: http://www.netsafe.org.nz/safer-internet-day-2015-lets-create-a-better-internet-together