With an eye to their futures, Irish students want cyber safety, as well as computer science, added to their curriculum.
The current curriculum is outdated, and important life skills – including cyber safety and security – should have more emphasis in the curriculum, Irish students have said.
Yesterday (4 May), ISPCC Childline and Vodafone Ireland Foundation hosted Ireland’s first multi-site interactive conference for young people, to find out their thoughts and experiences on online safety.
‘It is clear that a national children’s cyber safety strategy should be an urgent priority for government’
– GRAINIA LONG
The event, connecting more than 100 young people (aged 13 to 17) from Dublin, Dundalk, Galway and Cork in a live streamed workshop, revealed that young people feel that they should be better protected online and should receive better life-skills education, including online safety.
Young people also feel that there should be better regulation of social network providers.
Cyber safety will be a vital life skill of the 21st century
Their observations come at a time when online bullying is rampant among smartphone-toting school-goers and when social networks are front and centre in a new war on safety. This week, Facebook announced 3,000 new jobs within its community operations team to enable the company to move faster to intervene in dangerous situations and keep people safe.
In the live debate, the students said that life skills should have more emphasis in the curriculum.
They argued that online safety awareness should be a key part of the curriculum and called for better regulation of providers of social media, as well as clearer take-down, block and reporting procedures across all platforms.
The students’ observations come as Ireland prepares to create the role of a Digital Safety Commissioner, with faster take-down powers modelled on similar positions established in New Zealand and Australia.
A key facet of this role should be education. No doubt an easy way to ensure its effectiveness would be to enshrine cyber safety in the curriculum, rather than treating it as an ad hoc lesson.
“Cyber safety is the child protection issue of our time and it is so important that we listen to young people and children on how this affects them and how, as a society, we should take on the issue,” urged ISPCC CEO Grainia Long.
“It is clear that a national children’s cyber safety strategy should be an urgent priority for government,” she said.