Enhancing Cybersecurity for Children: Experts Call for Systematic and Continuous Safe Internet Education

Educationists, journalists, and civil society members called for systematic continuous safe internet education to protect children from cybercrime. Organized by the Society for Media and Suitable Human-communication Techniques (SoMaSHTe) at the Daily Star Center in Dhaka on September 20, the seminar highlighted the need for continuous and updated cybersecurity education in schools to ensure children’s safety in cyberspace, especially as students have started using mobile phones and other devices during the pandemic without proper guidance.

The seminar was attended by policy actors, academics, practitioners, teachers, students, media officials, journalists, and U.S. Embassy representatives, with Dr. AAMS Arefin Siddique, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Dhaka, as the chief guest.

Dr. AAMS Arefin Siddique addresses the seminar.

Dr. AAMS Arefin Siddique stressed the importance of ensuring cyber security in the curriculum and training school and madrasa teachers to build awareness among students. He said, we have to adapt to the advancement of technology. You need to know its correct use. We also need to know the safety aspect. He also said that teachers, along with parents, should give time to students, and teach them to be good people.

Professor Md. Farhadul Islam, Chairman of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board, said that teachers would play a role in reducing the misuse of the Internet. Internet safety issues are also covered in textbooks and we are working in updating it.

Khadija Mohamud speaks at the event.

Khadija Mohamud, assistant cultural officer of the US Embassy in Dhaka, said that the United States government is giving importance to cyber security and has been providing various cooperation to Bangladesh in this regard. She urged the students in the meeting to go to schools and areas to create awareness.

Aniqa Raisa Chowdhury, deputy director (planning), Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, said, the textbooks under the new curriculum of 2023 include components like the negative impacts of misusing the internet on children’s mental health.

Ali Haider Chowdhury, additional superintendent of police in Bogura, stressed the need for action against those who spread harmful content online and the importance of strengthening filtering mechanisms and cyber patrolling.

Dhaka Tribune Executive Editor Reaz Ahmad, Channel i Chief News Editor M Zahid Newaz Khan, ATN Bangla News Editor Nadira Kiran, and others also spoke.

The experts emphasized the need for continuous efforts to educate and protect children from cybercrime. With the rise of technology, it is essential to provide children with the necessary skills and knowledge to navigate the digital world safely. The experts called on the government and educators to prioritize cybersecurity education to ensure children’s safety in cyberspace.

SoMaSHTe started the Internet Safety and Security Literacy project in September 2019 to increase the awareness and literacy of school children about critical safety and security issues related to internet use, especially while using social media. The project aims to safeguard children from the dangers of violent extremism, bullying, sexual harassment, and other cybercrimes that usually target children and new internet users. The project’s main activity is to deliver school training sessions for students on cyber safety in the Bogura district.

A total of 5,392 students, including 2,877 girls and 2,515 boys, reading in class nine and class ten of 52 schools in Bogura district were trained on critical internet safety and security issues. An additional 2,652 students across the country also completed an online course on the same. The project will also generate policy recommendations for mainstreaming media literacy education.