- Hackers and fraudsters are increasingly targeting children, who are now using tech at an earlier age.
- Elementary school curricula should incorporate cybersecurity.
- Existing voluntary programmes aimed at younger children can show the way.
There are basic lessons children need to learn early in life to ensure their safety. Look both ways before crossing the street. Wear seatbelts. Avoid talking to strangers.
It’s time to add another to the list: Beware hackers and cyber creeps.
In this era of rapid technological advancement, children need to immerse themselves in technology at a young age in order to start learning the skills they will use throughout their lives.
But they also need to be warned about the risks that accompany all those cool smartphone and computer applications. All too often, that isn’t happening.
Elementary school teachers should include these cybersecurity basics in their everyday curricula. At a minimum, every young child should know how to keep their information private, to refrain from responding to strangers and to report anything unusual to an adult. Today, many don’t.
Cyberattacks are nothing new, of course. But what is less understood is the extent to which children increasingly are being targeted. About one in four youth in the US will experience identity theft or fraud before they reach the age of 18, according to a 2019 estimate by the consumer credit reporting company Experian. Fraudsters are targeting their clean credit histories and, increasingly, their virtual wallets.
What’s more, about one in five American young people experience unwanted online exposure to sexually explicit material, while one in nine experience online sexual solicitation, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.