NetHui 2011 – Day 1: Digital Citizenship – Cyber-Safety

Digital Citizenship – Cybersafety

Stream led by: Martin Cocker (NetSafe) – NetHui Digital Citizenship Forum

Martin started off the session by outlining there things are in New Zealand, as well as providing a context for the terminology which would follow. In this regard, Digital Citizens were defined as those using technologies to have:

  • Greater productivity (via use of technology)
  • A better education experience
  • Connections with e-government
  • The responsibility to “Balance” the digital society
    • Politically, we can vote out non-performers
    • Commercially, we can only influence via our adoption and usage of technologies.
    • We can’t vote for everyone (politically) but we can influence via usage and adoption

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The NZ education curriculum is based on key competencies & values, there is no context for Digital Literacy, and – perhaps more frighteningly, cyber-safety* skills are not included. Somewhere in the middle lies digital citizenship.

Q: How do we help educators to best leverage the building blocks for digital citizenship?
A: Education is pre-digital, there is great variance in experience (within schools) some schools better than others (most are not in the ‘better’ camp).

If NZ was more digitally literate – we would demand more, from content suppliers, from infrastructure, from governance.

NetSafe did a survey (which was a lot more recent than the 2009 WIP, but n=425 from memory – I can’t find the survey results on the NetSafe website unfortunately). The question was asked “How much do you know about Internet Security” to which 11% responded “A Lot”. However, only 48% of respondents suggested Anti-Virus as part of their security measures. I’m not sure if that’s a reflection on people not having AV on their devices, or the fact that AV has fallen out of top of mind as most computers running windows have some form of AV installed at time of purchase.

Parents were asked what their top concerns they had about being online:

  • Child Predators 51%
  • Identity Theft 46%
  • Loss of privacy 42%
  • Scams 41%
  • …plus more, but I’d need the slide pack for that.

Interestingly, when youth (n=1600) were posed a similar question the results were as follows:

  • Cyber-bullying 33.2%
  • Unwanted Sexual Solicitation 18%
  • Inappropriate content 12%
  • Sexual Content 29.3%
  • Stranger Meetings 11.4%

These results are based on what the respondents didn’t want to see (i.e. Sexual content they were not seeking out). The upshot of the comparison is that parents are unduly worried about child predators online (it’s recognised as an over stated issue), while kids are actually experiencing and being hurt by cyber-bullying

The consensus of the room was that the biggest things to focus on in to make the most impact on the digital citizenry of New Zealand was:

  • Teaching children directly
    • Focus on the risks, why should you care
  • Professional Development for Educators
    • The average age of teachers in New Zealand is 48 and climbing, and many are feeling overwhelmed by the rate of change in technologies available
    • At one school NetSafe attended, only 30% of staff thought they understood how to teach and model Digital Citizenship
    • Modifying the curriculum to teach the “Right skills for a digitally enabled world”
    • The big issue in demanding teaching of this material is that it will be pushed onto the incumbent teachers resulting in an overload or a lack of depth in the learning experience and modeling.
    • Everyone is doing what they can with what they have but it was well recognised that teaching is becoming more mentoring, guidance and facilitating than a broadcast of knowledge – especially in the ICT context.
  • Educating Parents as are not seeing cyber-safety as an issue (until it effects them).
    • Engaging parents via their kids. It’s very hard to get parents to an educational session unless there has been a recent incident
    • Taking small steps, many parents are feeling very left behind

All in all a good discussion which got a little side-tracked from time to time, but flowed nicely into the following session.

*‘Cyber-safety’ – seriously, it’s not the early 90’s, can we stop using the word cyber every time online is mentioned??



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