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From Cybersafety to Digital Citizenship: A Changing Landscape for schools

In the past decade there have been significant changes to technology and the way it is used in New Zealand schools. This has presented new challenges for educators in creating an environment where teachers and students are confident in the safe and secure use of technologies. With the increasing availability of ultra-fast broadband in New Zealand, schools will increasingly face a more complex technical environment that demands an appropriate approach to online safety.

Previous models of school cybersafety relied on teachers and administrators preventing access to specific content. Most New Zealand schools have established ICT guidelines and procedures, both technical and managerial but new uses of technology requires the focus of cybersafety to expand beyond policies and procedures to include discussion, action, and teachable moments in the classroom.

Ongoing staff and student education programmes are fundamental to keep pace with changing technology use in schools. Students need to build skills and knowledge to effectively manage challenge online themselves. Educators need to increase their capability to guide young people in building their own cyber safety skils.

The concept of creating a cyber safe environment has moved from protecting people and to giving people the skills, knowledge and confidence to maximise the opportunities the effective use of technology can bring.

When a young child enters school, they will have limited practical cyber safety skills. By the time they graduate, we expect them to be ready to fully participate in a digital society. In the intervening years they will learn online safety skills with the assistance of a guide, against a backdrop of reducing levels of protection.