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Kids to learn good internet safety practice from OWLS

Feb 12th, 2014 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, Multimedia

by CALLY MARTIN and BETHANY PEARSON

A NEW internet safety programme aimed at kids has been launched this week.

The program, called OWLS, was officially opened by Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye at Tawa School on Tuesday.

OWLS stands for:
· Own your own information,
· Wait and feel free to ask someone else,
· Lock your stuff
· Safety first

OWLS is a 16-module course that has been developed by teachers for use in both primary and high schools.

The programme covers topics such as being cautious what personal information you share online and what to do if someone sends you inappropriate messages.

The need for such a programme has been highlighted in recent years, with one in five New Zealand high school students reporting instances of cyber-bullying according to NetSafe.

Tawa School student Gabby, 12, said her and her friends haven’t experienced online bullying, but have heard of it and feel prepared to deal with it.

She said one of her favorite things to do on the internet was watch One Direction music videos on YouTube.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Schroff said the modules directly addressed needs because classroom teachers were heavily involved in the development of the programme.

The New Zealand commission for the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) funded relief for the teachers who worked on the programme.

“We’ve got to educate people into this new digital age, and what better place to start than in the primary schools,” said UNESCO chair Ian McKinnon.

Anne McLean, a teacher at Tawa school involved in developing the programme, said the internet is an unfamiliar place for teachers wanting to create a safe learning environment for children.

She said they are able to fit the new programme into a busy curriculum because it is integrated with everything they do.

Brian Waddell from Karori West Normal School also worked on the programme.

OWLS aims to help children learn to become digitally literate and to be good digital citizens, he said.

NetSafe recommends parents save evidence of online bullying when told about it by taking a screenshot and then reporting it to children’s schools or, if serious, to the police.

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