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Study warns that kids as young as 5 must learn to protect themselves online

“There is a need to educate people from a young age to protect themselves from common cybersecurity threats."

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Pretty Black Teen Girl Watching a Movie on her Laptop Computer Seriously at Home.
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By Pol Allingham via SWNS

Children as young as five need to learn about cybersecurity to protect themselves online, researchers have warned.

Primary school students are currently taught about online threats and how to be safe but the process needs to be more detailed and start earlier, a recent study claims.

They say the curriculum is too vague and cybersecurity fundamentals are not taught until children are 11 and 12 and when they are over 15 years old.

The majority of children in the U.K. have a phone at age 7, according to a report by Childwise.

Western Australia's Edith Cowan University (ECU) Associate Professor and Security Research Institute (SRI) Deputy Co-Director Dr. Nicola Johnson recommended a consultation on cybersecurity curriculums must happen.

She said: “We need to start early with five-year-olds. We need to get the curriculum ‘right.’

“There is a need to educate people from a young age to protect themselves from common cybersecurity threats.

“Exactly what needs to be taught surrounding cybersecurity needs to be very clear within the curriculum.

Kids using laptop
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“Teachers need professional learning to help them teach cybersecurity behavior effectively and confidently.

“It is only in year 11 and 12 elective subjects that students are taught what is now fundamental aspects of cybersecurity; this is too late.

“There is a strong case for this key knowledge as well as 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.

“By teaching content typically learned in senior secondary to younger children, we can reduce both future job shortages and the enormous cost of cybercrime."

In the U.K. the National Cyber Security Centre has released a video game teaching seven to 11-year-olds about online safety called CyberSprinters.

They also released CyberFirst, a program helping 11 to 17-year-olds pursue any interests in cyber security by offering bursaries and competitions.

The scheme has a particular interest in boosting the future cybersecurity workforce.

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