Cyber Smart Education an Important Part of Creating a Safer Online Ecosystem
May 4, 2023
In March 2023, a report from the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) outlined how advances in technology are outpacing efforts to address online harms. The culmination of online threats, some unlawful and some not, along with the ever-changing nature of technology, leave law enforcement, governments and organizations struggling with how to keep up and keep their employees, citizens and businesses safe.
Meanwhile, parents, guardians, and educators are faced with the challenge of helping children navigate the online world while being mindful of the many risks they may encounter. The safety and well-being of children are of utmost importance, and it is understandable to feel concerned about the potential dangers they may face.
Unfortunately, the risks that children are exposed to online are numerous and can be severe. Cyberbullying, online luring, sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse, privacy violations, phishing scams, and exposure to inappropriate content are just some of the harmful situations that children may encounter.
It is crucial to be aware of these risks and take steps to mitigate them. By doing so, we can help children use digital technology safely and responsibly.
The CCA report is worth exploring for anyone looking to better understand the landscape of cybersecurity and safety in Canada. It provides an overview of the following:
- the current state of digital technology, privacy and security
- the ways digital technology can be used to both cause harm and combat it
- a review of laws and policies
- the challenges law enforcement faces when trying to address cyber crime and online harm.
By surfacing the context of cybersecurity, alongside the challenges in addressing it, solutions also become clearer so more individuals, groups and organizations can become engaged. In fact, the report highlights the importance of collaboration among a variety of stakeholders including civil society, policy-makers, law enforcement and the private sector to address the issue of digital safety in Canada.
Actua’s Cyber Smart Education Project (Engage. Empower. Connect)
Skill building and education of youth is certainly one of the approaches that will have a positive impact on cyber safety in Canada.
“A critical part of engaging youth in technology is ensuring they have the knowledge and skills to be responsible and empowered online.”
“We’re doing what we can to keep pace with the changes we’re seeing in both innovation and online threats. It’s important because we know kids want and need to be online so it’s a matter of helping them do that safely.”
Actua’s Cyber Smart education project (Engage. Empower. Connect) empowers youth to explore, create and connect responsibly online, and helps to advance efforts towards a safer online ecosystem. The content Actua creates for this project is meant to help youth:
- Be empowered digital citizens
- Create positive, inclusive spaces both online and offline
- Make smart and informed decisions when using technology
- Encourage proactive and self-driven formation of online identities
- Leverage Cyber Smart strategies to solve challenges and mitigate risks faced online
- Identify media bias and misinformation
- Spot and avoid various cyber threats (phishing, malware, etc.)
- Be aware of and understand best practices to follow if trouble happens online
- Learn about exciting opportunities in cyber security careers, and see diverse representation and perspectives in these fields.
“In addition to developing resources that help teachers, parents and guardians support youth with online safety, we also encourage youth to share what they learn with their family and friends as ‘Cyber Smart Ambassadors’ to extend the learning beyond the youth themselves,” says Ramdeo. “As the CCA report noted, staying safe online isn’t up to a single individual or entity. The more we all do our part, the more of an impact we will have.”
Looking for resources to support your classroom or tips and advice to keep the kids in your care safe? Actua’s got you covered!
Resources for educators:
- Actua’s Cyber Smart Educator Handbook
- Actua’s Cyber Smart suite of activities. Choose resources developed by Actua.
For parents and guardians:
- 4 key practices to empower and keep youth safe online
- Curated library of Cyber Smart related resources Choose resources for parents/guardians.
Recent updates in the Cyber Smart education project:
Over the next year, Actua will continue developing content with insight from both youth and subject matter experts to keep up with the evolving digital landscape and needs from different communities. This will include content on new and emerging topics, activities for younger grade levels and resources for parents, guardians and educators to help empower youth with a cyber smart mindset.
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