AUCKLAND, New Zealand, 8 July 2021 - More than 45 million potentially dangerous and distracting websites were blocked at schools every day during the
second half of the 2020 school year, according to a new report released today by Network for Learning (N4L), the Crown
company providing safe and smart internet services to New Zealand schools and kura.
The second N4L Te Pūrongo Whakakitenga Data & Insights Report
reviews how 855,000 students and teachers across Aotearoa’s 2450+ schools and kura used the internet for learning from
July - December 2020, while noting the millions of online security threats and harmful digital content blocked across
N4L’s network every day.
The report shows that as school internet use continues to climb, with a 32% jump in data consumption recorded between
the first and second halves of 2020, students were also protected from a growing number of online threats (2.3 million)
and unsafe websites (2.2 million) every day they were at school.
Some key areas explored in the report include:
Online threats - Nearly 1,600 online threats were blocked every minute across N4L’s network and more than half of these took place at
secondary schools. The most common were related to malware and malicious websites, with each school blocking an average
of 500 of these every day.
Unsafe websites - Students were kept safe from harmful digital content such as extreme violence, substance abuse, and pornographic images,
which represented 5% of all websites blocked across N4L’s network. These ‘safety blocks’ were also more common at
secondary schools, with an average of 5.6 blocked for every secondary school student, and fewer than one blocked for
each primary school student.
Social media, instant messaging and gaming - Schools are using N4L’s technology to keep students on task and away from distractions, with just over 20% of all
content blocked across the network related to gaming websites. Another 14% was attributed to instant messaging and
social networking sites, with the most frequently blocked instant messaging sites being Google Hangouts, Snapchat and
Discord (in that order). And Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest represented the most commonly blocked social networking
Streaming media - Almost a quarter of all web traffic (24%) stemmed from streaming media sites, with YouTube, Apple, Netflix, and TikTok
(in that order) being the most data-hungry. However, the popular video-sharing app TikTok represented less than 1% of
all streaming data on N4L’s network.
Data use - Secondary students used 2.5 times more data each day than primary school students. And students at smaller schools
(fewer than 100 students) used more data than students at larger schools. Internet use across the regions varied, with
students at West Coast schools using the most data each day (375 MB), which is more than twice the amount of Marlborough
school students (158MB).
Browsing time - Google, Apple and Microsoft are the sites school internet users spent the most time browsing. When looking at the top
ten websites specifically related to education, the most time was spent on collaboration platforms like Hāpara Teacher
Dashboard, Seesaw and Google Suite for Education. Language learning websites feature more prominently than online maths
education for both primary and secondary schools.
N4L CEO Larrie Moore says schools are the largest consumers of daytime internet in the country: “Keeping schools secure
and ākonga safe online is a considerable responsibility and requires ongoing investment, expertise, and careful
vigilance. Cyber threats continue to rise globally, and New Zealand is not immune from these threats: our technology
blocks more than 1,500 per minute for the 2,500-plus schools choosing to use N4L's services.
“In the coming months N4L will continue to work with the Ministry of Education, schools and many technology partners to
ensure schools and their learners have the protection needed to help them learn safely online regardless of where they
go to school.”
Netsafe, which is hosting New Zealand's first ever Netsafety week
from 26-30 July, says N4L’s report reflects the agency’s efforts: “We are continuing to see an uptick in incident
reports related to harmful digital communication
and objectionable content, so it’s important that N4L works with schools to block content from young eyes,” says CEO
Netsafe’s research reveals that almost 50 percent of teenagers have been exposed to potentially harmful content online,
and that there is often a mismatch between parents’ awareness of what their kids might be seeing. Netsafe’s Online
Safety Parent Toolkit helps whānau confidently speak to their children about internet activities and helps to minimise
the harm they may experience.