Educators are responsible for ensuring the safety, well-being, and training of students, including in the digital realm. With the ever-increasing reliance on technology in education (and nearly everywhere else), it’s vital to teach students about cybersecurity and the importance of online safety. National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) provides an excellent opportunity to engage students in meaningful discussions and activities about cybersecurity.
Here’s what you need to know about Cybersecurity Awareness Month and ways to observe it.
Understanding National Cybersecurity Awareness Month
National Cybersecurity Awareness Month has been observed every October since 2003. It was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to provide individuals and organizations with the resources they need to stay safe online.
Ways to Observe This Important Month at School
While your students might associate October with the ghouls of legend and pop culture, it’s a great month to teach them that some of the world’s scariest creatures lurk online. Here are some ways to get kids thinking critically about internet safety:
Cybersecurity workshops and presentations. Collaborate with IT experts, local cybersecurity professionals, or law enforcement agencies to organize workshops or presentations for students. These events can cover topics like online safety, password management, recognizing phishing attempts, and responsible use of social media.
Open discussions. Facilitate conversations with students about their online experiences and challenges. Encourage them to share any cyber incidents they may have encountered and use these situations as learning opportunities to highlight best practices.
Cybersecurity contests. Organize fun and educational contests related to cybersecurity. These could include creating strong passwords, identifying phishing emails, or developing posters or videos that promote cybersecurity awareness. Extra points for incorporating Halloween themes!
Share resources. Introduce students to resources from authoritative sources like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance to educate students about the latest cybersecurity threats, trends, and safety tips.
Hands-on simulations. Plan hands-on activities where students can simulate real-life cybersecurity scenarios. This can include exercises where they must protect their devices from malware or respond to simulated cyber-attacks.
Create a cybersecurity pledge. Have students create a personal cybersecurity pledge outlining the steps they will take to stay safe online. Display these pledges prominently in the school to reinforce the importance of cybersecurity.
Get parents involved. Include parents in your cybersecurity awareness efforts by sharing resources and organizing events that parents can attend. Engaging parents will create a consistent message about online safety for students at home and school.
Guest speakers. Invite guest speakers who work in the cybersecurity industry or in internet safety education to share their knowledge. Vibrant, engaging presentations can have a powerful impact on students, making them more aware of potential risks.
Teach Kids Cybersecurity Awareness With Net Positive
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to realize their full potential as productive, caring, and responsible citizens and leaders. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based programs with a focus on those that improve academic engagement, build character, and improve healthy behaviors.
Our Net Positive Program educates K-12 students about digital safety, health, citizenship, and leadership. After participating in our program, students are 97% better prepared to face internet dangers. Contact us to learn more and ask your school to schedule a Net Positive Presentation today!
National Cybersecurity Alliance. “Cybersecurity Awareness Month.” National Cybersecurity Alliance, 27 July 2023, staysafeonline.org/programs/cybersecurity-awareness-month/.
“National Cybersecurity Awareness Month Resources.” NCSAM Resources | Homeland Security, www.dhs.gov/publication/ncsam-resources. Accessed 27 July 2023.