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Honing cybersecurity skills should begin at five years of age, Australian study finds

Alina BÎZGĂ

October 31, 2022

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Honing cybersecurity skills should begin at five years of age, Australian study finds

Nobody is immune to cybercrime and the malicious individuals who roam the digital scape. Excessive, unsupervised internet use can leave kids susceptible to unauthorized access to personal data, identity theft and online predators.

In this sense, researchers at the Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Western Australia are calling for a full review of the cybersecurity curriculum to include school lessons that cater to children as young as five.

The report, led by Associate Professor and Security Research Institute (SRI) Deputy Co-Director Dr. Nicola Johnson, suggests that the current Australian curriculum doesn’t teach vital cybersecurity skills that could keep children safe online.

It’s crucial that children learn as early as possible basic cybersecurity skills such as good password management and not trusting people you meet online, Dr. Johnson said.

“We need to start early with five-year-olds,” she said. “There is a need to educate people from a young age to protect themselves from common cybersecurity threats.”

The new version of the curriculum is unclear and, according to researchers, “fundamental aspects of cybersecurity” such as two-factor authentication, hacking and encryption are only taught to students in years 11 and 12 (also known as senior secondary school).

“There is a strong case for this key knowledge as well as Australian privacy principles and laws to be explicitly taught at much younger ages, given how cyber criminals so quickly and creatively come up with new ways to scam our citizens,” Dr. Johnson added.

If you’re a parent, teacher or caretaker in need of help teaching kids about good digital practices, check out this dedicated guide to ensure that your child stays safe while navigating the online world.

Don’t forget to visit our dedicated ‘family’ zone which includes more child-focused digital wellbeing and safety articles.

Stay safe!

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