oday's children are using technology more than ever before. They are posting about their lives on social media. They are taking selfies and sharing the pictures on sites across the internet. They are playing online games with their peers. They are, hopefully, also using their computers and other internet-enabled devices to help them with their homework. Since technology is such a huge part of their lives, the earlier they know about cybersecurity, the better.
According to a report by ITProPortal, the UK saw a significant rise in cybercrime last year, so it is a threat that we cannot ignore. The better educated we are, the safer we will all be, so it makes sense that cybersecurity should be added to our children's curriculum.
By learning how to keep themselves safe online, not only from hackers but from online predators too, they will be less likely to make mistakes when using the internet. They will also have the knowledge needed to keep themselves safe as they grow into adults, with the insight to protect their homes and businesses from malicious criminals.
At what age should children start learning about cybersecurity? Well, it can start from a very young age, with children as young as 5 frequently spending time with screens in their hands. Internet security games, such as Cynja, can be downloaded and these can be used to help young children with their education.
Teachers can apply age-old lessons, such as don't talk to strangers, when explaining to their students that they shouldn't talk to people online that they don't know. The dangers of sharing personal information should also be explained, as this is one way that hackers can exploit the computer systems and social media pages that our children are using. Another lesson that teachers can explain is the importance of passwords and how secure they need to be in order to protect the various online profiles of the students.
Other lessons can include:
Lessons should be age-appropriate, of course, and while it's a serious subject, there should also be some element of fun involved. As seen with these cybersecurity lessons, it is possible to teach children about computers and how to stay safe online through games and other enjoyable activities. Topics such as password protection, the dangers of malware, and how to spot a dodgy email are all covered by the activities in the linked article, and imaginative teachers will be able to expand on some of these in their own lessons.
Students of all ages should learn more about the importance of cybersecurity. We have already alluded to some of the reasons why this is important but here are some other reasons that need to be taken into consideration.
What is it about kids and selfies? It has become an obsession, not only for children and teens, but for adults too! Their pictures are then plastered all over social media pages for all to see. Is this a problem? Yes, because these pictures can end up in the wrong hands and on the wrong kind of websites!
A selfie could help a hacker steal the person's identity too, and other students could access the pictures for cyberbullying purposes.
For these reasons, students need to know how to amend their social media privacy settings and have an understanding on how to create a secure password. They should also be reminded to take care when using the 'sharing' feature on any of their social media networks. The lesson here is don't share your photos with people that you don't trust!
The internet is a great place but it's not all cat videos and celebrity sites. There is a lot of inappropriate content on there as well, and due to their innate curiosity, students might visit websites that they shouldn't.
For older children and teens, these may include pornography sites, file sharing sites, and sites that allow for the illegal streaming of music and movies. Quite often, such websites are unsecured and they contain a myriad of viruses and malware too.
Students should be encouraged to avoid these sites, not only for moral and legal reasons but for reasons pertaining to cybersecurity as well.
There are two things to consider here.
Firstly, older teens and university students looking to move into the tech field will benefit from the lessons that they are given on cybersecurity. The knowledge that they gain will help them to get jobs in IT so the earlier they start learning about cybersecurity, the better.
Secondly, students of school leaving and university age, regardless of the jobs they intend to move into, should learn about the importance of cybersecurity. Employers of all kinds are keen to employ people who have an understanding of safety protocols as they understand the consequences of hacking attempts and data breaches. As stated in the recent Cybersecurity Breaches Survey 2021, 39% of businesses reported having a security breach in the last 12 months, which is a very worrying statistic indeed.
Cybercrime is on the rise so we all need to do our bit to thwart the malicious attempts of hackers. One solution could be offering cybersecurity courses to students of all ages, as the better educated they are, the safer they, their homes, and future workplaces will be.
Lessons on cybersecurity will teach them more about human rights and the basic need for privacy. They will also learn how to keep their own devices safe, as well as those of their parents.
So in answer to the question posed in our title, yes, schools should educate their students on cybersecurity, for a multitude of reasons.
If you would like to know more, we at Gemraj Technologies Ltd would love to help. Get in touch with us today and arrange an appointment with our experienced cybersecurity professionals!