Comics spawn net safety

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET

YOUNG­STERS have been given a new tool to learn how to safely nav­i­gate the vast and some­times dan­ger­ous realm of cy­berspace.

The Comic Cre­ator lets kids make their own comic strips and was launched at Pt Che­va­lier School last week by cy­ber­safety com­pany Net­safe.

The cre­ator is in­tended to en­gage young peo­ple in a dis­cus­sion about keep­ing safe on­line in a way that is rel­e­vant and ap­peal­ing.

Kids can build sto­ry­lines us­ing a cast of pre­con­ceived char­ac­ters like the Jones fam­ily and pit them against prob­lems like the pow­er­ful virus Rapidspawn.

Pt Che­va­lier prin­ci­pal San­dra Aitken says comics are the per­fect way to get the kids at­ten­tion and re­in­force the school’s lessons around web wari­ness.

The school has had a strong fo­cus on net safety for the past sev­eral years and has al­ready seen the pay off.

There was an iso­lated in­ci­dent last year where one stu­dent was send­ing pho­tos to an un­known per­son via the in­ter­net, Ms Aitken says.

‘‘The other kids knew that it wasn’t a good thing to do and they came and talked to staff straight away.’’

She says among con­cerns like keep­ing pass­words safe and avoid­ing viruses, the big­gest worry is stu­dents not know­ing who they are talk­ing to in cy­berspace.

Net­safe’s chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer Sean Lyons says it is also hoped chil­dren will show the comics to their par­ents to spark fur­ther dis­cus­sion and echo the sen­ti­ments of the class­room.

‘‘Peo­ple as­sume that young peo­ple are sorted, but while they take to tech­nol­ogy like a duck to wa­ter they don’t know ev­ery­thing about se­cu­rity,’’ Mr Lyons says.

His mes­sage to par­ents is clear: ‘‘Even if you don’t know how to use the tech­nol­ogy, don’t walk away. Ap­ply the same safety tech­niques you would if you were teach­ing them to cross the street.’’

The char­ac­ters in the Comic Cre­ator were orig­i­nally an­i­mated by Dy­lan Coburn for on­line videos about com­puter risks.

The first in a se­ries of comic books, ti­tled The Tan­gled Web, was also de­vel­oped by Net­Safe and Mr Coburn, and re­leased at the launch of Comic Cre­ator.


Safety smarts: Paige Cooper-Smith, 10, shows an­i­ma­tor Dy­lan Coburn how she is mak­ing a comic from his char­ac­ters.

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