Early childhood education has long been established as an important factor needed to help children thrive. It is proven that if children fail to learn basic skills like reading while they are young, they will face lifelong challenges and struggles.
As we raise a generation of digital natives, we’re finding the same applies to cyber safety, or digital citizenship, training. No longer do children get their driver’s license and cellphone at the same time (“so they can call us if the car breaks down”). According to Influence Central, the average age a child gets a phone is 10.3 years old. Our own research at the Center for Cyber Safety and Education (Center) shows that 40 percent of ELEMENATRY-age children have spoken with a stranger online. It’s clear we cannot wait until they are in high school or even middle school to begin teaching them how to be safe and secure online.
This October, to celebrate National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Center is launching an ongoing campaign to bring the multi-award-winning Garfield’s Cyber Safety Adventures to tens of thousands of 3rd graders around the world.
Last October, we piloted a program called Cyber Safety Day in New Orleans, with great success. With the support of local businesses, we provided Garfield-led cyber safety lesson about privacy to more than 2,300 children at 17 schools in one day. Through this lesson, students learned how to own, secure and protect their personal information.
This October, we will be expanding the program to Orlando and Toronto. Nearly 60 schools and more than 7,000 children will participate in this coordinated one-day event in Orlando, Florida and another 10,000 in Toronto, Canada. But that is just the beginning. Volunteers and partner corporations in Columbus, Knoxville, New Orleans and Tampa have already begun working to hold their own Cyber Safety Days in the coming months. These four cities alone could easily impact more than 20,000+ additional elementary students!
If you aren’t familiar with the Garfield’s Cyber Safety Adventures program, it is an exclusive global partnership that the Center has with legendary cartoonist Jim Davis. There are three lessons available on the topics of Privacy, Safe Posting and Cyberbullying and are geared to help instill basic cyber safety principles for children in grades 1-6. The program is taught by a teacher, media specialist or even company employee volunteers. Everything for a classroom of 30 children is packaged into a box and includes a Garfield and Friends cartoon, comic/activity book, stickers, trading cards and more. The program has recently won the Learning® Magazine 2019 Teachers’ Choice Award for the Classroom and the 2019 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Award.
Since its launch in October 2016, Garfield has already provided in over 100,000 cyber safety lessons to children. With the new Cyber Safety Day initiative, we have the potential to have that impact in just one year, thanks to the support of business, schools and volunteers around the globe. With Garfield and his friends and the growing demand for Cyber Safety Day events, more children will learn the importance of owning what they post online, how to secure their personal information and the ins and outs of protecting their online existence, today and in the future.
About Center for Cyber Safety and Education
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education (Center), is the non-profit charitable trust of (ISC)2 and is committed to making the cyber world a safer place for everyone. The Center works to ensure that people across the globe have a positive and safe experience online through their educational programs, scholarships, and research. Visit www.IAmCyberSafe.org.