Push to keep kids safe online

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 14:04, February 11 2014

A "world-leading" resource to educate school students on internet privacy and safety has been launched in Wellington.

The OWLS project, launched today at Tawa Primary School, aims to help primary and intermediate school students manage their personal information online and understand the implications of making certain information available.

OWLS is an acronym for: Own your information, Wait before you upload, Lock your information, and Safety first.

It was developed by the privacy commissioner and NetSafe in partnership with the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, with teachers from Auckland and Wellington taking part in focus groups that contributed to the content.

The project is a series of 24 modules on different aspects of managing personal information online - each with a lesson plan which teachers can adapt to suit their classroom needs for cyber-education.

Associate Minister of Education Nikki Kaye said one of the reasons the project was exciting was because it had been driven by teachers.

"The whole thing about this package is it enables New Zealand teachers to be able to take students through modules about how to keep themselves safe - that's really important," she said.

"We think it is pretty world-leading."

Opportunities that came from online learning also came with some challenges which were important to be aware of, Kaye said.

"We live in a world where there are challenges in terms of being online, and just being able to have a teacher at the front of the classroom walking through how to keep yourself safe is a very positive thing."

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The Government was looking at whether more needed to be done in terms of providing support for resources like OWLS, she said.

"It is a tribute to the privacy commissioner that she drove this project and has produced this resource, but I think we can probably do more to support other groups that want to develop resources like this."

Parents of schoolchildren would be interested in using the project at home as well, Kaye said.

"One of the reasons why we support Netsafe is I think they've got a pretty holistic view around privacy and safety so there's an amount that students need to know," she said.

"But also I think parents being aware of ensuring that their children know how to keep themselves safe online is good, so I'm sure there will be huge parent interest in the package that has been developed."

The launch coincided with World Safer Internet Day 2014, which promotes the safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones, especially among children and young people.

 - Stuff.co.nz