What will we teach our children?

Feb 25, 2010 10:33am


By Michael Kaiser, NCSA Executive Director

Today, the National Cyber Security Alliance released the 2010 State of Cyberethics, Cybersafety, and Cybersecurity Curriculum in the U.S., which explores teacher, school administrator, and school technology coordinator attitudes toward teaching cyber education topics, what is actually being taught in classrooms, and the level of professional development teachers are receiving in order to teach these topics.

The survey results show some promise. For example, more than 90% of technology coordinators, school administrators and teachers support teaching cyberethics, cybersafety and cybersecurity in schools.  Unfortunately, that strong support does not translate into classroom time devoted to cyber education. In the past 12 months, of the 1,000 teachers surveyed, only 27% taught about the safe use of social networks, only 18% taught about scams, fraud and social engineering, and only 19% taught about safe passwords. Additionally, 32% indicated they had not taught cyberethics, and 44% had not taught cybersafety or cybersecurity. 

These findings are not surprising and teachers are not to blame. More than 50% of teachers reported that their school district did not require the topics be taught and more the 75% reported receiving less than 6 hours of professional development on these topics.

The digital age is upon us. It’s been 40 years since the creation of the Internet and this year we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the world’s most famous suffix: .com. As we forge ahead to a more connected world, adopt new technologies and new ways of interacting with each other, we must also ensure that our children have the skills needed to thrive in a digital economy. Online safety and cyber security are crucial aspects of digital citizenry. We cannot make the mistake of thinking that the Internet and cyberspace are some other world; they are ever present in this one.

President Obama in his Cyberspace Policy Review, released in May 2009, specifically calls for a ‘K-12 cybersecurity education program for digital safety, ethics and security.’ Let’s make a national commitment to educate all Americans, including our children, to be safe and secure online. Now is the time to provide schools and teachers the tools they need to embrace the digital age.

SSO (Stay Safe Online),

Michael