|Create Date||May 10, 2017|
|Last Updated||April 20, 2017|
By Ed Macnair, CEO, CensorNet.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that school-age children today are digital natives; they’ve never known an offline world, and are able to use technology that many adults struggle with. Of course, this needn’t be a negative scenario; after all, the world is increasingly moving online.
Indeed, these kids will be a pivotal part of the future in creating new technologies, as well as protecting the infrastructure we have in place. At last, this has been recognised by the UK government; soon, almost 6,000 children will be given special cyber security training in an effort to encourage future careers in the industry. Certainly, it’s a positive move, and one that should help plug the skills gap in years to come.
Security skills for all
However, cyber security skills should not be reserved for a few thousand children, but instead should become part of the curriculum for all. It’s important for children to be equipped with cyber security knowledge from a young age, from spotting phishing attempts to password hygiene.
For one thing, the ubiquity of smartphones is a sure-fire spell for trouble, and alarm bells should be ringing in schools and parental homes across the UK. In recent years, the introduction of mobile technology in the classroom has considerably enhanced the student learning experience, but it remains the responsibility of schools to safeguard this experience. School staff must ensure this takes place in a secure environment with the appropriate measures to control internet access.
Ultimately, schools must not only encourage their pupils to engage in good security practices, but also keep them safe from numerous online threats. With mobiles, some communication applications inevitably pose a greater security risk than others, as they’re more difficult to control and can evade security filters.
Beating the system
What’s more, children tend to try and ‘beat the system’ and will do their best to subvert filters to access what they want. As such, it’s paramount that all educational establishments install a strong web and content filtering solution while students are connected to the school’s network, and monitor what pupils are accessing and block inappropriate sites and apps. At the end of the day, it’s basic measures like these that can greatly reduce the likelihood of harm.
Nonetheless, irrespective of a school’s individual security policies, pupils bring their own mobile devices to school and can download what they like at home. Consequently, schools must evolve education programmes for children on school premises and across their networks to enhance safety.
This government initiative must be applauded, as it can no doubt extend interest in cyber security to more children, as well as raise awareness for the issue in schools.
What’s more, for teachers, a well designed digital learning environment provides rich stimulus for classroom conversation. However, in the face of rapidly rising cyber crime, it’s imperative that we extend cyber security lessons to all children, rather than limiting this knowledge for a select few for the sake of students, parents and teachers alike.
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