Who should teach kids internet safety?

KATIE KENNY
Last updated 17:36, July 3 2014
REBOOT: Kiwi teachers are behind international standards in internet safety training for students.

REBOOT: Kiwi teachers are behind international standards in internet safety training for students.

New Zealand teachers want parents to take more responsibility for teaching children about online safety, a new study shows.

AVG Technologies today published its annual survey on school internet use, that showed a global need to provide teachers with more support and training for educating children about online safety.

The results showed teachers were struggling under the expectations of parents around managing online safety education in school. Seventy-six per cent of New Zealand teachers surveyed said parents relied too heavily on schools to educate children about online safety, and 30 per cent believed their pupils' parents did not know enough about the topic.

New Zealand teachers were behind on global standards when it came to formal internet safety training, with fewer than 20 per cent of teachers saying they were formally trained.

However, 93 per cent said they used internet content in class, and 82 per cent said they discussed online safety on an "occasional" or "frequent" basis.

Almost half of Kiwi teachers agreed they needed better training, and the majority believed internet safety should be part of the school syllabus.

AVG said the findings highlighted the "concerning gap between the knowledge and capabilities of teachers and the expectations of parents".

Technologies security specialist Michael McKinnon said that given the degree to which the internet was used as an educational tool, many schools had put guidelines in place to deal with prevalent issues.

"The gap is that the majority of teachers had not received any formal training in online safety, so these guidelines alone are not sufficient," he said.

National Library Services to Schools development specialist Andrew Cowie, who also runs parenting courses, said parents and teachers needed to meet halfway when educating children on internet use.

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Often the best meeting place was at school, he said.

"It's not just about meeting up at parent-teacher conferences, it's actually having a dedicated parents' night where there's discussion about cyber safety and recommendations from the school on how parents can manage technology at home," he said.

Cowie said there needed to be regular dialogue between parents and school leaders about cyber safety.

"We need to provide this," he said.

"Whether the school puts it on, or hosts a third party to come in and talk about these issues, there's a huge gap there right now."

The researchers interviewed teachers who taught a variety of subjects to children aged 3-18. A total of 1760 teachers participated from New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Britain and the United States.

Top sites for teachers, parents, and children to visit about online safety

Commonsensemedia.org

Netsafe.org.nz

Mylgp.org.nz

Inmyday.org.nz

 - © Fairfax NZ News

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