Comics spawn net safety
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.