With the pandemic forcing many schools and educational institutions to find online alternatives, 89 per cent of people in India believe that schools should educate children on cyber safety, according to a study by McAfee released on Tuesday.
Of these, 62 per cent believe that digital wellness and protection should have its own separate curriculum that is taught throughout grade school while 27 per cent feel it should be integrated into technology subjects like IT. Further, 81 per cent of the people in India said that since last year, at least one member in their household started either full-time or part-time online learning via virtual platforms. Of these 24 per cent learners fall between the age group 5-12, and 9 per cent even under the age of 5.
"With students as well as teachers now operating from lesser controlled environments, the need to educate them on basics such as phishing, cyberbullying, and inculcating overall cybersecurity hygiene is imperative. Educational institutions must approach cybersecurity holistically, particularly now that technology pervades nearly every facet of a child's life," said Judith Bitterli, senior vice president of Consumer at McAfee, in a statement.
"As technology has transformed the educational sector, cybersecurity too must be part of the school curriculum, and entrenched in the way we teach, and the way we learn," she added.
To stay safe, one must scrutinise the email/text before replying; maximise privacy settings on all social profiles and engage in safe social networking; use a VPN when children are accessing online learning services from home to protect the privacy of the Internet connection with bank-level encryption to stop hackers stealing personal information like passwords or data, McAfee advised.
Children must also be educated about fake news, how to spot a phishing scam, make strong, complex passwords, among others. For the study, McAfee commissioned MSI International to conduct a survey of over 1,000 adults in India in April 2021, aged 18-75.