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89% Indians believe schools should educate children on online safety

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The way we learn has changed dramatically over the past year as the pandemic outbreak forced many schools and educational institutions to find alternatives to physical classrooms. This resulted in an uptick in virtual classes as students started spending more time online, thus exposing themselves to higher risks on the web. Online scams succeed because they ride on people’s behavioural and emotional vulnerabilities and hence, sensitising them on basic online safety protocols will contribute significantly to reducing risks and ensuring superior learning outcomes. A new study from McAfee Corp shows that 89 per cent Indians believe schools should educate children on online safety. 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. 

The report further states that 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. In 34 per cent of households, these learners fall between the age group of 18-24 years, followed by 29 per cent between 13-18 years, 24 per cent between 5-12 years, 21 per cent between 25-35 years, 16 per cent over 35 years, and nine per cent even under the age of five. Given that a large young audience has adapted to virtual learning, there’s a greater need to ensure their online safety and it’s encouraging to know that 36 per cent of the respondents who participate in distant learning, purchased new security/protection technology in India. 

“As they turn to remote and e-learning, students today, are at a heightened risk of online threats as their time spent online increases and they adapt to newer tools. 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. 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,” said Judith Bitterli, Senior Vice President, Consumer, McAfee. 

As per McAfee’s Cloud Adoption and Risk Report – Work From Home Edition released in May last year, the education sector saw the second most increase in the amount of threat events in their cloud accounts for both internal and external threats. Dearth of awareness and weak policies governing the space makes the sector alarmingly susceptible to cyberthreats. For parents, some of the areas of concern when it comes to the increased connectedness of their kids are illegal content (55per cent), sharing personal information (53 per cent), exposure to scams (53 per cent), cyber-bullying (52 per cent) and misinformation (49 per cent). It is therefore important to maintain control over how their sensitive data is managed and shared inside and outside of the virtual classroom.

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