The VLN Primary and NEX are offering teachers a free webinar supporting Safer Internet Day on Tuesday 11 February 4 - 4.30 pm. (Nau mai Haere mai - all teachers welcome!) Register tinyurl.com/VLNPsafer

The VLN Primary has signed up to become an official supporter of Safer Internet Day, the world’s biggest campaign to make the internet a safer place. This session will discuss ways to support safer internet in our teaching practice.

A great starting point for teachers, ourselves, are the following key recommendations from Netsafe:

• Online safety is more important than ever. The internet gives us opportunities we’ve never had before, with more and more on offer by the day. But with these advances come challenges and when things go wrong, their impact is all too real.

• Online safety is often thought of as an issue for young people, but anyone can experience a problem online. As an online safety organisation, Netsafe deals with a myriad of issues including online bullying, grooming, scams, stalking, image-based abuse and privacy breaches.

• Netsafe research shows one in five New Zealand teenagers, and one in 10 New Zealand adults were harmed by something they experienced online in the previous year. In many cases people reported being unable to eat or sleep and withdrawing from usual daily activities.

Here are steps we can all take to protect ourselves and our whānau online and have better, more positive online experiences.

1. Protect your information – it’s valuable. Make sure your passwords are hard to guess and have different passwords for all your accounts. Too hard to keep track? Consider using a password manager. https://www.netsafe.org.nz/passwords/

2. Do an online profile check-up. Familiarise yourself with the privacy settings on the social media platforms you use and remember, your digital footprint doesn’t wash away with the next tide so think twice about what you post.

3. Put your critical thinking cap on and get media savvy. Like everything online, the news we consume also deserves a critical lens. Implement a fake news ‘filter’ when you’re catching up on news online. Ask yourself: Is this a reliable source? Are these facts credible? Is the article balanced? Could this be a joke or a hoax?

4. Report bullying, abuse and harassment to Netsafe. Make sure you’re practising tolerance, kindness and respect online, and report bullying or abusive behaviours when you see it. There is legislation in New Zealand to help people experiencing something harmful online and Netsafe can help.

5. Most importantly, let’s kōrero about our experiences online. This is particularly important for our tamariki. Having regular, non-judgemental conversations with your kids about what they’re doing online helps to reduce the damage if things do go wrong.

• Are you experiencing something upsetting or challenging online? You’re not alone, Netsafe can help. Netsafe provide a free, confidential, impartial service to help with online challenges. Translation services are available. Contact Netsafe on 0508 638 723, email help@netsafe.org.nz, text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282 or make a report at netsafe.org.nz

NEX is a 'Network of Expertise' for teaching online in New Zealand schools