Schools should add cyber security to their curricula

In a society where children and adults alike are discovering the ways of the web, it is imperative that education catches up with our fast-paced world and begins to enforce mandatory cyber security education in primary schools.

As an elementary education major, I take hold of as many opportunities as I can to get involved with schools and work with kids.

A trend has caught my attention in these school visits. I see young second grade students holding onto the new iPhone 11 that is bigger than their heads. In a fifth grade classroom I visited, over half of the students had mobile devices, and nearly half already had access to social media.

I got my first phone at the age of 15, long after I learned the dangers of the online realm and understood the precautions I would need to take when building an online profile through social media.

It beats me why any second-grade child needs an iPhone 11, but whether we like it or not, this is the direction our society is moving.

Education must act quickly to protect today’s youth from the criminals lurking behind the screens.

The internet is like the Wild West: untamed, lawless and festering with many people wishing harm on others. The internet has become their safe space for unfolding their sordid schemes.

Traffickers and other criminals use children’s access to social media to their advantage and prey on them.

Kids have little to no knowledge of the dangers of the world – nor should they at that age.

When young kids text strangers they meet online, it is no different than someone’s child wandering around in the street chatting with an ominous man in a stereotypical white van.

Children are not mature enough to handle phones. If educated adults can fall victim to online scams, you bet kids will too.

To protect today’s innocent youths, primary schools must make cyber security education mandatory and embed it into the curriculum.

To understand the severity and urgency of the situation, simply search up all the emails you’ve received from SVSU regarding phishing scams.

In my one semester at this university, I have received over 10 emails warning of phishing scams.

These people are out there, hunting hapless internet users, especially young children who are within arm’s reach of these cyber dangers.

Children need to know what makes a website safe and secure. They need to understand how information spreads online.

They need to be aware of the dangers of sharing private information. They must be educated on the sophisticated and convincing tricks used by scammers and hackers to gain access to your information.

Kids will never realize the gravity of the situations they could get themselves in because they cannot comprehend the fact that there is someone on the other side of their screen lying and plotting against them.

Hackers, scammers and traffickers should not be underestimated. They are often incredibly educated with computers and very tech savvy. They know how to work their way around the web.

Their strategies and methods have proven successful, and they are not going to slow down.

These people are often one step ahead of everyone else and highly motivated to get their way.

I would like to make it clear that I don’t want to dispute that there are remarkable achievements that have come to pass thanks to the power of modern technology. As a society, we have done incredible things that our ancestors could only dream of.

When in the right hands, technology can do incomprehensible and wonderful things, but when in the wrong hands, it can prove more destructive than we think.

The first step we can take to ensure a safe and secure online world is educating our youths in the field of modern social technologies.

Knowing how to spot the difference between a legit email and a phishing scam, how to scrutinize online deals that appear too good to be true and how to react when someone asks for an inappropriate image of yourself in a private chat could be the difference between safety or danger, life or death.

Making cyber security education mandatory in primary schools will ensure the protection of today’s youths in an online driven world.

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