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An industry that’s expected to continue to blossom is cybersecurity. Unfortunately, women don’t have equal representation in this industry. According to Small Business Trends, women fill only 20 percent of tech jobs in the US. This statistic reveals that gender inequality exists in STEM careers, which discourages many women from entering the industry. Other reasons include lack of mentors and education.
In order to bridge the gap, some parents are taking the responsibility for teaching cybersecurity basics to their kids. Doing so fosters interest at an early age and shows young girls they have a support system. Below are some cybersecurity lessons to teach girls to challenge the IT gender stereotype.
Lesson 1: Discover how computers dissect information
Computers use binary code to read information. The binary code consists of a series of numbers 0 and 1; each distinct pattern indicates different institutions for the computer to follow.
A great activity that makes understanding binary code easy is creating a binary code name tag. These can include UTF-8 binary code for each letter in the alphabet. The name tag task makes it easy for kids to match code with alphabet letters.
Download the printable activity here.
Cybersecurity lessons 2: Understand how networks connect
It’s universally known our home technology is interconnected on a network. Informing your kids on how networks operate can be exciting and mind-blowing for many little ones.
A safe place to start to empower girls is teaching network terminology such as:
- IP address
Once your kids memorize the terms, encourage them to locate the IP address on a home laptop or the WiFi router in your house. The projects you are doing today can inspire them to later join the cybersecurity industry that needs more females.
Lesson 3: Know what malware is
Malware is a term coined by the combination of “software” and “malicious.” As the name implies, malware harms your electronic devices.
Knowing the different types of malware can help kids identify what kind of problem their device is experiencing. For example, it might be:
- A Virus
A basic malware-themed word and definition paring worksheet can assist in teaching your kids about this complicated topic. Using this printable activity about malware is another of the cybersecurity lessons you can use as a parent to help empower girls.
Lesson 4: Create a safe username
As a parent, protecting your children from the dangers of the Internet is a big concern. In fact, it’s a reason why different tech companies implement “kid” versions of their products and services.
Most websites and applications require an account set up. A secure way to protect your kid’s identity is by creating usernames without their real names.
To protect your child’s identity online, ask them to make a username with their favorite animal, food, or something else creative. Using a real name can make them vulnerable online.
Lesson 5: Choose a safe password
After you select a username, it’s time to create a password. In general, password protection is difficult for adults and kids. Establishing some password guidelines early on can help empower girls and boys to understand the importance of computer security.
Some guidelines for creating strong (and therefore safer) passwords include:
- Use 8-14 characters
- Combine letters, numbers, and symbols
- Capitalize letters throughout
- Avoid using family names
- Change your password every two months
Cybersecurity lessons plan for selecting a strong password:
Final words on empowering girls with cybersecurity lessons
Teaching your kids early on cybersecurity lessons can help give them the confidence they need to pursue their dreams, especially girls. Don’t let demotivating statistics deter your daughters from entering STEM.