iKeepSafe Blog

Should it be mandatory for schools to teach cyber ethics?

Over the last twenty years,  education has seen an explosive growth of internet use and computer technology. The internet holds massive amounts of information, accessible by search engines such as Google. Teachers can find a plethora of information to add to their curriculum, and students have the amazing ability to research anything within a matter of seconds. There are no limits to what the internet can bring.

Unfortunately, not all of it is great. In order to keep up with technology and the ever-increasing global infrastructure, educating teachers and students on cyber ethics becomes critical.

According to Norton, “acceptable behavior on the internet is very much the same as acceptable behavior in everyday life.” But the new vocabulary of “cyber ethics” is catching many older teachers off guard, requiring a crash course in internet communication. Cyber is a prefix that can be used to describe things, people, or information connected with the internet. Ethics is making moral choices when it comes to when, where, and why students will use the internet.

Marsali Hancock, CEO and President of ikeepsafe.org, states it very well, “The convenience of digital technology offers a wide array of benefits and risks. Educators, parents, and students should understand both the positive and negative potential of digital devices in order to take full advantage of the technology.”

In a recent study, Microsoft teamed up with the National Cyber Security Alliance, surveying K -12 private and public schools all over the United States. The survey shows there are almost 60 million students and teachers today. The need for educating this enormous group of individuals is vital. In a recent Journal, Barbara Endicott stated, “the workable solution for students is to give them the tools to make decisions that support their safety as well as understand the agenda of their learning community.”

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s study shows that students are currently not obtaining adequate education when it comes to cyber ethics or internet behaviors. Social media has become a tool used by students and teachers on a daily basis. Students from 8 – 18 years of age alone are on electronic devices for 7 hrs. & 38 minutes a day. 94% percent of students ages 12 – 17 are online with 58% of students having their own online profile. Did these students learn cyber-ethics at school? If not, where? Bill Sanderson, principal in San Francisco says,” We require our students to use the internet for research and study. We must ensure that they are properly educated on how to keep themselves safe online.”

“Virtually all young people are using online internet technology in some way, shape or form, but we still see a lack of cohesion and disconnect in schools about what they should be doing; in the 21st century, these topics are as important as reading, writing and math, “said Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance.  More and more school districts use computers on a daily basis—moving from traditional lectures to online education.

The ethical behavior of students without training or education is suspect. Students are not receiving the appropriate cyber ethics training leaving them to chance cyberspace. Today, many teachers have not received the proper training necessary to educate current cyber responsibilities to stay safe online. Microsoft’s study indicated that the teachers surveyed, only 23% taught the importance of passwords. 34% of teachers taught about sharing personal information, and 33% taught about respecting privacy. These are failing numbers. Should society blame the teachers? Overall, 76% of the teachers surveyed want to have the proper training to educate cyber ethics. 76% of the teachers surveyed have received less than 3 hours of training, with 36% receiving zero hours of training.

Every day, news of cyber-crime, theft of intellectual property, or the next cyber-bully suicide is part of today’s reality. School districts all across America must ensure that cyber ethics is part of curriculum. Today’s student is tomorrow’s business leader. Each student should have the ability to receive proper education. In order for students to receive that education, each teacher needs to go through adequate training in order to provide a solid foundation to each student. Current statistics should be a national wakeup call to act and provide teachers the proper tools necessary. The future of this nation’s infrastructure will depend on it.

To learn more about iKeepSafe resources centered on cyber safety, security, and ethics visit http://GenerationSafe.iKeepSafe.org


Dennis Schmid is a married father of 3 living in Mesa, Arizona. Dennis works full-time for the leader in Identity Theft Protection and has first-hand knowledge of what society needs to protect families and businesses from cyber-attacks and identity theft.

Categories: Educational Issues

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