My kids have just introduced me to Hector’s World. This is an online cartoon series about a dolphin and his friends getting into adventures. My kids were shown it at school and it turns out that it is actually a series about internet safety and good online behaviour aimed at 2 to 10 year olds. I’ve done a little digging into it and found out that it started in New Zealand as a partnerhship between the Ministry of Education and the Police and was brought to the UK by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre which is part of the the UK police.
I like it because it encourages a digital literacy approach to internet safety rather than simply trying to regulate and prevent children accessing the internet. I think that we also need to think about what young people can do positively online, but preventing dangerous behaviour is clearly important and this seems to do it pretty well. Although it suggests that the internet can be dangerous, it is also clear that is can be fun and positive as well.
But it doesn’t matter what I think. So I thought I’d ask my kids (daughter 7, son 5).
Me: So what do you think about Hector’s World?
D: I think it is really fun and it is learning at the same time. It is a really good combination.
S: It’s OK.
Me: Why did they show it to you at school?
D: Because we were learning about safety and one part of this was safety on the internet. We were learning about not sending information out to people and about cyberbullying which isn’t very nice either.
Me: What is cyberbullying?
D: You know bullying. It is basically the same. But it is online. For example, if someone sent a horrible message to you on the computer.
Me: What did you learn from it?
D: I learnt that you should always tell an adult or someone you trust about cyberbullying. And you might get hurt if you send out your personal details.
S: Oh, nuffink. Oh I knew that you shouldn’t give out your personal information. I knew all about it.
Me: Will you use the internet differently?
D: I think I will. But it won’t be that different. Because you would think that it is a big change but it isn’t actually. You just don’t give out personal information and you shut down the computer if someone gives you a horrible message.
S: No. Nobody knows my personal information except for my friends anyway.
Me: Do you like the internet?
D: I like it, but I have learnt that it is dangerous to use it. But it is fun and very clever.
Me: What is it for?
D: You can use it for finding things. For example if you typed in “Hector’s World” then everything about this would come up. It is very clever at finding things. It doesn’t normally send you horrible messages. I play Bin Weevils – but now I’ve seen Hector’s World – I might not play it so much.
S: To play games and watch things.
Me: Any final thoughts?
D: Hector’s World is really fun to watch and I’ve learnt a lot.
S: I really like it.