A new generation of digital citizens dive into Hector’s World

Issue: Volume 103, Number 5

Posted: 24 April 2024
Reference #: 1HAgFQ

Ahead of the launch on 1 May, Education Gazette delves into Netsafe’s new online safety programme, Hector’s World. Discover the need for this important resource and get a glimpse into its vibrant characters and engaging episodes. 

Hector's world

An ever-expanding range of tools and technology continues to enable and amplify learning and living experiences. While a digital world offers a multitude of opportunities for entertainment, communication and education, there also exists potential for online harm. 

Typically, online safety education focuses on teenagers, assuming the onset of smartphone use and social media sign-ups is when education needs to begin. 

But the use of devices for gaming and learning is now ubiquitous with pre-teens and younger children too, despite low awareness of the risks of being online and limited skills to participate safely on platforms and online spaces.   

The reality is that many children often have free rein and unsupervised online access, despite parents and educators expressing concern around the digital presence children have. 

Without proper education and safety practices in place, being online can be an unsafe space that can impact the mental and physical wellbeing of tamariki. 

Addressing a need

Netsafe consistently receives helpline reports related to digital incidents involving children aged between five and nine. 

Until now, there has been a lack of dedicated, up-to-date and engaging online safety education resources for these ākonga in Years 6 and under. 

Now, a familiar face returns to offer a helping hand (or should that be fin!). The Ministry of Education has supported Netsafe to develop the new series of animated videos and teaching resources. 



The welcome return of Hector’s World – which has become a staple in many classrooms – now introduces new episodes and lessons tailored to the contemporary online challenges children face. 

Created for primary-aged children, each episode is supported by a wide range of resources and lesson plans targeted to Years 1–3 and 4–6. Feedback from kura has informed the development of the learning programme and episodes are available in English and te reo Māori.  

Empowering responsible choices 

The heart of Hector’s World is empowering children to make responsible choices when faced with online challenges like cyberbullying, digital footprints, mis/disinformation and privacy. 

As well as providing education on how to navigate the internet safely and avoiding potential dangers, the programme develops a foundation for lifelong digital literacy and being a responsible digital citizen.  

 “The programme’s success lies in its ability to make complex concepts accessible to young minds, encouraging a proactive approach to online safety from an early age,” says Netsafe CEO Brent Carey.

“The reality is, being online is integral to young people’s lives; equipping them with the skills to be aware and to be smart with their online behaviours will ensure they have safe and positive online experiences. 

“Using these free online safety resources can significantly support students’ mental and physical wellbeing as they start to further explore the online world.”  

Curriculum alignment



Hector’s World aligns with learning outcomes across Health, Physical Education, and Technology. 

The programme includes take-home activity packs to help shape conversations with parents and whānau, and to support ongoing education. This recognises the strong links between the classroom and home, to embed learning.  

“We’re excited to see the beloved Hector’s World return refreshed with new videos and learning resources,” says Danielle Vandendungen, digital security engagement advisor at the Ministry of Education.

“Netsafe have done a wonderful job with the programme, a neatly pitched balance of education and entertainment, which is sure to strike a chord with young learners.

“We look forward to seeing a new generation of children becoming well-equipped digital citizens who can navigate the online landscape securely and responsibly.” 

Planning packs, classroom resources and videos are available on the Netsafe Kete:

Education Netsafe(external link)

Take a peek inside Hector’s World

Episodes can be watched in any order, but it is recommended to watch episode one first, which introduces the series and the characters.  

  1. Hector’s World: Meet Hector and friends as they share details on how they use technology and the web to fit in with their interests and personalities.  
  2. A Balancing Act: Mr Ling teaches the class why it’s important to ‘watch what you watch’ online and Felix learns a valuable lesson about balancing his online time when he’s too tired to have fun with his friends after staying up late to play online games.  
  1. Running A Tight Ship: Mr Ling explains ‘running a tight ship’ when online – not to allow cracks to show and water to get in. The characters discuss the importance of keeping their private information private to keep themselves safe.   
  2. Best Footprints Forward: Hector and his friends learn about digital footprints and the importance of asking permission before sharing information, images or videos of another person online. 


  3. A Searabbit Hole: Not everything you see online can be believed. After watching a scary film about sharks, the friends are all convinced that sharks are a terrible sea creature. But by talking about what they saw, learning more about sharks from their teacher and having a real-life encounter with a shark, they discover that sharks are pretty cool after all.  
  4. Kick It With Kindness: Jazz learns the importance of being kind online and choosing her words carefully to save other people feeling hurt.  
  5. Class Acts: The friends reflect on everything they’ve learned about having positive and safe online experiences.  

Meet some of the cast 

Hector: Hector is a playful nine-year-old Hector’s Dolphin who is very creative and has an active imagination. Curious and creative, he delights in spending time with friends, writing stories, and crafting movies on his mum’s tablet.  

Felix: A nine-year-old fish who loves soccer and video games ... Although he’s starting to play more inside than outside these days. 

Jazz: As an adventurous and tech-savvy jellyfish, with an inherent fascination with gadgets and technology. Jazz is always eager to dive into new online experiences and enjoys navigating the digital world. 

Milly: Milly takes pride in keeping up to date with popular games and videos and is a huge fan of online influencer “Char the Star.” Milly is sometimes so keen to be as trendy as Char that she tries to act older than she really is. 

‘Char the Star’ Charlotte: Char is an online gaming influencer sharing positive insights into gaming etiquette, strategy and fair play. She is stylish and popular and her fashion and language is often emulated by her fans.   

Jay: Jay is Milly’s 13-year-old brother and he’s a star soccer player at the local secondary school. As he’s older and has experienced more online he has some advice to give the other kids when they need it. 



Mr Ling: Mr Ling teaches Hector and the gang at Coral Cove School. Outside of school he’s a competitive surfer and proudly represents New Zealand in surfing competitions. He’s an art and science teacher who really encourages the kids to be independent, creative, and respectful – as well as to be safe online and offline. 

Moana: Moana is Hector’s mum and a marine biologist. Her work is all about sustainability and promoting ‘balance’. She believes this is important for the kids’ real and digital lives as well as in the ocean. 

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 2:02 pm, 24 April 2024

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