Many rangatahi are exposed to harmful or inappropriate content online that they are not developmentally ready for. This could include violent, hateful, extremist or sexually explicit content. This can make them feel confused, embarrassed and scared.
What to do if they see harmful and illegal content?
When a young person comes across harmful and upsetting content online they may react differently. Encourage students to:
- Report the content to the platform – see ‘Report online harms(external link)’ page
- Close the app or window.
- Talk to a trusted adult or friend if they are upset by content.
In some instances students may be exposed to objectionable content. This refers to online content that is extremely harmful and is illegal in New Zealand. This may include child sexual exploitation or terrorist or violent extremist material. If students see content of this nature they should report it to Te Tari Taiwhenua Department of Internal Affairs(external link) and talk to a trusted adult.
Think before you share
Some rangatahi may share harmful content they come across online with their classmates and friends. They may do this as a joke, to get a reaction from the recipient or raise awareness of the content. However receiving this content can result in young people feeling confused, scared and disturbed.
Explain to rangatahi that sharing harmful content online or with friends can cause them to be upset and disturbed by the content. It can also negatively impact the victims that are depicted in the content. If they see harmful or upsetting content – don’t watch it, don’t share it, report it.
Help and support
There are support services available for young people if they need help and support for content they have seen online:
- Netsafe helps people with online bullying, abuse, harassment and other things that happen online that make you feel bad. If you see any harmful content online, you can report it on our website(external link).
- 1737(external link) is a free service for New Zealanders feeling down, anxious, a bit overwhelmed or who just need to chat to someone. You can call or text for free 24/7.
- Youthline(external link) provides support for young people for a range of issues including depression, loneliness and peer pressure. Contact them on email@example.com or freephone 0800 376 633.
The below resources can be used by Educators to support conversations with young people about what to do if they are confronted with harmful material or misinformation online.
- Netsafe(external link) have information on what to do if your students have been exposed to harmful and distressing content online.
- Ara Taiohi(external link) are a youth development organisation who have developed MOSAIC Cards to help create social cohesion through conversation. These cards can be used to help you kickstart difficult and challenging conversations about prejudice, racism and harmful ideologies.
- Te Mana Whakaatu Classification Office(external link) have created a video to explain the importance of age rating and warnings about films, shows and games in New Zealand.
It can be hard for young people to know if the information they read, listen to, watch and share online could be misleading or even harmful. We collated some advice to help students think critically and figure out what's real and what's not online:
- The Eggplant | The Special Report Special | Bonus Episode(external link)(external link) is a drama-crime-comedy online web series to help young Kiwis safely navigate the Internet. This episode highlights how easily and rapidly misinformation can spread and provides young people with advice on how to think critically about the things they see online.
- What is misinformation(external link)(external link) outlines the different types of misinformation young people can be exposed to online.
- How to research online(external link)(external link) equips young people with advice on how to effectively read both laterally and vertically online.
- When people get it wrong on the Internet(external link)(external link) outlines information about online trolls and memes as a form of misinformation.
- Sharing our values(external link)(external link) provides students with information on how to build positive supportive relationships and communities online.
Netsafe have launched their Online Learning Platform(external link) that includes interactive resources for students as well as facilitator notes for educators. The “News or Views” micro lesson investigates how to tell what is read and not real online.(external link)