Kiwi kids are entering unchartered territory tomorrow, logging in and going online for their school day for the first time ever.
The Government’s online learning initiative has prompted concerns from parents regarding surfing the web safely.
To combat this, Network For Learning has created software families can download onto their devices.
Network For Learning provides all the safety and security solutions for schools across the country, and Larrie Moore, the organisation’s Chief Executive, said ‘Switch on Safety’ has been modelled on what is already in place at schools.
“It’s an extension of one of the services we have in schools. All of the adult content, all of the bad stuff that we're aware of; it's filtering all of that out.”
Mr Moore said the software was easy to download and simple to use – something that was factored in to its development.
“It's been made easy for people to follow some instructions. We don't all work in the IT industry and we can't get to all the homes, so we've done something that is as easy to set up as, say, a prepaid mobile phone. It's pitched at that level, to ensure that parents are confident they can set this up for their children.”
Around 145,000 Kiwi children don’t have access to the internet at home.
Bream Bay College principal Wayne Buckland said the software will be key in helping those households without internet navigate the online world.
“I’ve had a number of emails parents just worried about the safety of their kids online. Switch on Safety looks like it's going to be the answer to those problems.”
But the Ruakaka educator said the filter can’t be thought of as an easy fix.
“It won't trap everything but it certainly will make it a lot safer for students out there.”
Mr Moore echoes that stance.
“We are confident, but it's not a silver bullet. It needs to be applied with some good online stewardship, some good online behaviours from young people... also supported by their parents as well.”
Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker, said education going online was a great opportunity for families around New Zealand to brush up on their cyber safety knowledge.
“It's good to hear that some parents are worried. It means they recognise the difficulty that we now face. But we don't want them to be worried, there's lots of opportunity in this. There's lots of tools available to get you through it as a parent.”
Netsafe’s website has tips for parents to use alongside ‘Switch on Safety’.
“Ideally every child in New Zealand will be connected to this system, and every parent will use the processes that Netsafe promotes.”
Instructions to download ‘Switch on Safety’ can be found here.
The filter will be free for families to use at home for two years.