‘Story Stories’ is an interactive series of bedtime tales, designed with input from Netsafe and Digital Natives Academy to raise awareness of harmful situations children may find themselves in online - and help prompt family conversations about what kids should do if faced with them.
Based in the highlights section of Spark’s Instagram page, the first chapter of a three story series is available from today. Each story seeks to educate both parents and kids aged 4-8 about what they can do to stay safe, and features a link to Netsafe’s Online Safety Parent Toolkit to further support them with digital parenting.
Spark’s Brand Experience Lead, Sarah Williams said as kids grow up in an increasingly digital world where everything from schooling and homework, to gaming and socialising is carried out online – it’s vital our tamariki understand what they can do to stay safe online.
“Spark is committed to helping all of New Zealand win big in a digital world, so we’re pleased to be able to use our resources to create this tool for parents and their kids’ to help them navigate tricky situations they may find themselves in.”
A recent Netsafe report suggested parents tended to underestimate their kids’ engagement in risky or hurtful behaviours online and only half of parents surveyed believed they had the skills to help their children deal with risks and harm.
Netsafe’s Director of Education & Engagement, Sean Lyons said digital parenting has become more important than ever before which makes it crucial that parents and whānau feel confident teaching their kids how to access digital opportunities and reduce harm. Our Online Safety Parent Toolkit gives parents the information they consistently say they want to know about, and is a great place to start in understanding the challenges young people may face and how to best help them have better experiences.
The first story addresses the issue of online bullying with a story about a little boy who gets bullied by another gamer who says he’s making the team lose. The boy confides in his neighbour and they reach out to an older cousin who reports the bully and they are ultimately blocked.
Throughout the story, there are questions to help prompt parents and their kids to reflect on what just happened and talk through whether they think the right decision was made.
Digital Natives Academy Founder, Nikolasa Biasiny-Tule said Spark’s Bedtime Tales addressed some of the most prevalent issues they come across when working with Maori tamariki to stay safe whilst gaming. She estimates around 95% of people aren’t using the mute or block function when facing online bullying and that this simple tool can take all the power away from a bully.
Parents can also find helpful information about how to help keep their kids safe online on Spark’s website: https://www.spark.co.nz/help/scams-safety/online-bullying/
For those experiencing online bullying, reach out to Netsafe on 0508 NETSAFE for support as they can explain how the Harmful Digital Communications Act may apply to you and the options available to resolve the issue, or you can contact Youthline on 0800 376 633.
Spark worked with local illustrator Lily Uivel @lilyudraws to bring Story Stories to life.
 Netsafe (Oct, 2020). Factsheet: Parental awareness of children’s experiences of online risks and harm. Retrieved from https://www.netsafe.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Factsheet-Parental-awareness-of-childrens-experiences-of-online-risks-and-harm.pdf