Cyber Security and Education
The rapidity with which children and young people are gaining access to online, convergent, mobile and networked media is unprecedented in the history of technological innovation. There are two main foci for e–security research that associated with protecting information both strategic and economic and that protecting people particularly the young. While these are overlapping concerns it is the latter that this special issue addresses.
The focus on e-security is timely as it resonates with the rising public debate about the safety of particularly the young as they increasingly live out their lives in cyber-space or virtual worlds. The European Safer Internet Program has been raising awareness, fighting illegal content, involving the civil society in child online safety issues and creating a solid database of information related to the use of new technologies by young people. It has also set up a network of Safer Internet Centres present now in 30 European countries, which include an awareness centre and helpline and in most countries a hotline to report illegal content. Some Safer Internet Centres are contributing to this edition of eLearning Papers with their own experience in the area on promoting online safety through education.
Digital literacy and skills are crucial to the safe use of the Internet. Certain competences have been identified as necessary skills young people should have in order to manage security online. These skills include: the ability to adopt a critical use of new media (including the ability to assess sources), understanding how to present oneself online, in terms of privacy, identity and reputation management, and developing responsible and ethical online behaviour.
While there is consensus on the pressing nature of the risks, incorporating cyber security into the curriculum is a new practice, at best. The very nature of risk still needs to be interrogated and understood more fully, answering questions such as: What constitutes risk when working with digital media? Are online risks the equivalent of off-line risks? Where does the potential reside to reduce harm to young people? Or, are the skills available at home, school or society to effectively protect learners?