5-year-old kids in Australia will soon have cybersecurity in their school curriculum

Australia is currently undergoing a revision and review process for its schools’ national curriculum. The most recent draft includes a section to teach children ages 5 to 16 about cybersecurity.

That curriculum itself would take a steady, gradual approach to introducing cybersecurity. At the age of five—when children first enter public schools—they would be taught “not to share information” with strangers—like their birth date or full names. They would also be taught to “consult parents or guardians before entering personal information online”.

At the age of six, kids would be learn how “to use usernames and passwords, and the pitfalls of clicking on pop-up links to competition”. When they reach third or fourth grade, they would learn more on data usage and privacy, and how to identify the personal data that may be stored by online services, and how that can reveal their location or identity. 

The curriculum would also include “the use of nicknames and why these are important when playing online games”. Children would also learn media literacy skills to help them tell the difference between factual information and misinformation.

According to Gizmodo, a lot of countries have been talking about putting more cybersecurity in their curriculums, too. But Australia may actually end up being one of the first ones to do it.

As for Malaysia, there was a 2020 paper on cybersecurity awareness among school students in Malaysia. The paper stated that there is “clear evidence that Malaysians are well-exposed to Internet use from a very young age as a teenager”. However, children are expected to be well informed of current cyber world issues and “must learn to develop an instinct to stay safe online”.

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The Ministry of Education (MOE) also had plans in late 2020 to introduce a National Cyber Security Awareness Module at 300 schools nationwide. The module would cover a number of topics like online ethics, balanced internet usage time, cyberbullying, social media and digital citizenship.

Australia has yet to finalise its new curriculum. However, this initiative could kick start other countries like Malaysia to prioritise cybersecurity. In late 2020, there was an over 1,000% increase in threats detected that was disguised as e-learning platforms in SEA.

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Dzamira Dzafri