Hayley's on a web-safety campaign

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 03/07/2014
Hayley van Waas/YouTube

Hayley Van Waas created this video to highlight the effects of cyber-bullying and web safety.

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DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ
Tech-savvy teen: Palmerston North Girls’ School studentHayley van Waas, 17, has received a nod of approval from Google and Netsafe for a clever campaign she developed as part of the nationwide Web Rangers competition, which encourages teenagers to share messages of web safety.

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A tech-savvy Manawatu teen on a mission to debunk cyber-bullies' behaviour is hoping to take her web safety campaign to primary schools.

Palmerston North Girls' High School student Hayley van Waas has been given a nod of approval from Google and Netsafe for her anti-cyber-bullying campaign, which she developed as part of the nationwide Web Rangers competition.

The contest challenges Kiwi teens to create successful public awareness campaigns showing safe use of the internet. Out of more than 140 entries, Hayley was placed third, with the judges praising her positive two-pronged approach.

She created a video clip promoting positive internet behaviour and developed an online safety presentation, which she's delivered at school assembly, to the Parent-Teachers' Association and to primary school-aged children at College Street Normal School.

"It was challenging getting an idea that would work; I didn't want to make it cliched," she said.

"I also wanted to talk to people in person and on a large scale, I mean, I can always talk to people in class but I don't know if that will get my point across as well.

"It's been cool getting feedback from people that watched my presentation, especially from the primary school kids, and I've had quite a few parents come up to me and tell me their kids haven't stopped talking about me and my message."

She signed up with Web Rangers on the advice of a friend and said that what people posted online could come back to them.

Her pay-it-forward-themed three-minute movie shows one teen posting a positive comment to a YouTube tutorial clip, despite the raft of negative feedback, and how the one kind comment could affect people's online and offline lives.

The video ends with the phrase: "Your hurtful words can destroy someone's world, but a few kind words can make a world of difference."

"I aimed for the video to be really upbeat and positive," Hayley said.

"You see people leaving mean comments online all the time, and that's not a very cool thing to do, but I also see good things happen online . . . so that's why I thought I'd emphasise that."

She hopes to be a computer scientist but in the meantime wants to continue taking her campaign to primary schools. She can be contacted on hayleyavw@yahoo.co.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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