The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently tested 540,000 teenagers around the world – including 4,453 Kiwis – mostly on their academic performance, but the test also surveyed teenagers about a few key life things, like how much time we spend online.

The results paint a bit of a mixed picture: for example, out of 35 OECD countries, we rate about mid-table for the amount of exercise we get – 17th in fact, meaning that 26% of NZ 15 year olds get the recommended 20 minutes of vigourous exercise 5 times a week, which is roughly average across the OECD nations.

But there’s some worrying numbers as well: we rank 2nd in the developed world for bullying. That means that more than a quarter of Kiwi 15-year-olds say that they get bullied at least a few times a month. That’s more than any other developed nation in the world, except Latvia, so this is something we really need to work on as a country.

In the same survey, NZ teens were most likely among developed nations to agree with the statement ‘other students make fun of me’. They’re also 4th most likely to say ‘yes’ to the statement ‘I got hit or pushed around by other students recently.’

This is clearly really worrying. It’s just not good enough that more than a quarter of Kiwi kids are getting bullied – emotionally and physically – at school.

JETmag would love to hear from you on the issue – why do you think NZ has such a high rate of bullying? What do you think we could do to improve the situation? If you feel strongly about it, or would like to write a small opinion piece for JETmag, get in touch by emailing: jaylan.boyle@nzme-ed.co.nz).

There’s better news in terms of motivation: 70 per cent of Kiwi students surveyed agreed with the statement ‘I want to be one of the best students in my class’. That’s slightly above the OECD average.

Cue moral panic – Kiwi teens are online A LOT (this is news??)

In other news that’s sure to get parents and talkback radio frothing at the mouth, it also turns out that Kiwi teens are 7th in the world in terms of how long they spend online, outside school – at 163 minutes. This question though wasn’t put to American teens, so the results could be a bit skewed.

In fact, one in six NZ teens are classed as ‘extreme’ users of the internet, meaning they’re online for at least six hours a day outside school. The proportion of these heavy users has jumped up from 6.1 per cent in 2012 to 17 per cent last year.

But wait: you can tell your parents that they don’t need to turn back the clock to the dark ages just yet. Before they reach for that router switch (nooooooooo!), you can quote the head of NetSafe New Zealand, Martin Cocker:

“… If your child is doing well at school and has good, solid relationships, then I would say don’t worry about how much time they are spending on the internet.”

What is the OECD?

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is a forum in which 35 member nations whose political and economic situations – representative democracy and a market-style economy – are broadly the same can get together and discuss economic cooperation. The OECD tries not to be a club for the rich – more than 70 non-member countries are invited to attend meetings and share ideas – but ‘OECD’ is often used as shorthand for ‘rich countries’.

The OECD also compiles statistics across the whole group, which means that we get a complete picture of how we compare to other nations in the group. The four-yearly PISA test is one such effort to work out what education looks like across all 35 countries. You can go here for more information on this fascinating organisation.

Data source: NZ Herald

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