Promotion for The Department of Internal Affairs
Last year The Department of Internal Affairs launched Keep It Real Online, a programme to help youth and their parents navigate situations they may face in the online world.
You will remember the viral TV ad with the porn stars knocking on the door (ahem!) as well as the ones featuring a girl being bullied and an online groomer. The Keep It Real Online programme also produced The Eggplant, a drama-crime-comedy mini-series designed to help teenagers understand the issues they may encounter using the internet.
Discover The Inter-Yeti
Now the final part of Keep It Real Online has just launched – The Inter-Yeti is a digital interactive storybook for children aged 5-12. The story has been created to help children become familiar with the potential dangers of the online world so that their interactions are fun and rewarding.
The Inter-Yeti follows the story of Gunther, an adorable Yeti who is excited to discover everything that the internet has to offer. While helping Gunther on his quest, your child can learn about the importance of staying safe online. They will have the opportunity to make decisions for Gunther when he is faced with a problem, encouraging kids to ask for help when faced with situations in their own digital use.
The story covers online bullying, inappropriate content, talking to strangers and sharing of personal information. Children can read along at their own pace either by themselves or with their parent/caregiver, or they can have the story read to them by New Zealand singer, Stan Walker.
Why we need to talk about online use
Being online is a great place for tamariki and rangatahi to learn, explore, play, connect, and be entertained. Sadly it can also be a place where they may have experiences that are less than ideal. A scary 40% of our young children have online interactions with people they have never met in real life, bullying is common, and inappropriate content is easily accessed.
Children can access the internet 24/7 from a variety of devices including laptops, tablets, phones, the TV, e-reader, and even watches. This, combined with children often being defensive about their online use, can create an environment where it may be difficult for parents to monitor their child’s use and support them to ensure their online time is safe and fun.
In our rapidly changing world, technological solutions and controls are unlikely to be 100% effective, so opening the lines of communication between you and your child and giving them knowledge about their own safety is a powerful solution. The Inter-Yeti story can a wonderful tool to help you initiate these discussions:
- As a family, agree boundaries and behaviours for online use
- Get ahead of issues by having conversations around what is and isn’t appropriate online, based on your family values and your children’s ages
- Ensure your children understand what personal information should not be shared online (without scaring them!)
- Encourage your children to come to you with any situation that they’re unsure about
- Check in with them regularly around their online use and explore new apps or sites that they may want to use
For free help and advice, you can visit www.keepitrealonline.govt.nz for further information.
This article was written by Kidspot NZ for The Department of Internal Affairs