Cybersecurity in the Curriculum - Repetition Makes the Brain Grow Fonder

Sounding like a broken record, and beating the same drum, often have negative connotations. However, there’s something to be said for repetition. It’s how the brain learns, and strengthens the pathways between neurons. The more we repeat, the easier it is for our brains to retain that information. It’s simple; rehearse the skill, ease the recall.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you might find one subject frequently popping up: education. Now, aside from the obvious reason we might mention education a lot, it’s often actually in reference to the education of online safety. It’s imperative that youngsters get to grips with all facets of online safety, due to how routine their interaction with the internet is.

From the beginning of primary school, kids are using interactive whiteboards and accessing resources online. Over a quarter of children under 6 have their own smart phone, and over half of these under-6s spend more than 21 hours a week on their new device. The way children interact and communicate with each other is moving increasingly digital. This results in the potential for there to be a gap in knowledge, leaving kids vulnerable to the risks and dangers of engaging with online content. It’s especially important to consider this in regards to their future, as nearly all routine parts of our lives are increasingly dependent on the phone in our pocket; banking is going cashless, insurance and mortgages can be applied for solely online, and the way people meet is often through a screen.

In lieu of this, it was recently proposed whether cyber-security should become part of the curriculum in schools. Starting basic classes on cyber-security in primary school, would help lay the foundations for a basic understanding of the dangers posed online. Resources such as Jessie & Friends, or the Be Internet Legends interactive game from Google, offer great age-appropriate information, with all of the resources available free to use and utilise within the classroom.

Local police authorities often speak at schools, to warn kids about the danger and crimes specific to their area. However, the digital link that nearly every schoolchild shares, is never addressed. Cybersecurity professionals aren’t utilised in the same way, even though arguably cyber-attacks pose a more likely, and immediate risk.

With millions of children throughout the UK routinely logging on to public domains, it is only a matter of time before they come into contact with a stranger. That’s not the only thing to be mindful of, we recently explored the dangers of micro-transactions within online games such as Fortnite, and the real-life impact it can have on kids’ social circles. The introduction of any classroom-based activity that stresses the important tenets of online safety and conduct, would allow kids to see why it’s important to: keep personal details private online, be kind to one another and spot potential dangers - not just be told.

Through doing so, they would build an invaluable skillset, indispensable when navigating online spheres. Laying the framework of online savviness is key, as repetition is only valuable if applied to practicing the correct way of doing something. Bad habits only become habits after being repeatedly reinforced. Presenting kids with the building blocks of cyber-security knowledge, would allow children to make healthy and informed decisions online.

It may seem odd to incorporate cyber-security lessons within the curriculum, but every primary school pupil in the UK today has only known a world with broadband and social media. Instagram’s new tools to combat cyber-bullying, is an excellent example of a reaction to the inevitable challenges new technology inflicts on the generation of tomorrow. Online technology is here to stay, and will only become more seamlessly integrated in every aspect of our lives. It seems prudent then, to equip those who will live in this fully online world, with the ability to spot any digital dangers. Even just updating a smartphones software can be the difference between a hackable phone, and a secure one.

Repetition then; is our way of getting across just how important it is to educate youngsters about cyber-threats. So as our kettles begin to access the internet, and we’re quite literally pushed out of the driver’s seat in our cars – the schoolchildren of today, will be perfectly equipped when dealing with the world of tomorrow.