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Australia proposes teaching cyber-security to five-year-old kids

By eight they should be telling you not to upload geo-tagged photos of them in school uniform

Australia has decided that six-year-old children need education on cyber-security, even as it removes other material from the national curriculum.

A newly revised draft of the national curriculum for children aged five to sixteen, launched yesterday, added a new strand titled “Considering privacy and security” that “involves students developing appropriate techniques for managing data, which is personal, and effectively implementing security protocols.”

The proposed curriculum aims to teach five-year-old children - an age at which Australian kids first attend school - not to share information such as date of birth or full names with strangers, and that they should consult parents or guardians before entering personal information online.

Six-and-seven-year-olds will be taught how to use usernames and passwords, and the pitfalls of clicking on pop-up links to competitions.

By the time kids are in third and fourth grade, they’ll be taught how to identify the personal data that may be stored by online services, and how that can reveal their location or identity. Teachers will also discuss “the use of nicknames and why these are important when playing online games.”

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By late primary school, kids will be taught to be respectful online, including “responding respectfully to other people’s opinions even if they are different from personal opinions”.

The new curriculum retains Australia’s 2015 decision to spread digital technologies across other subjects, a decision made reached despite early drafts calling for classes dedicated to coding. Such classes were dropped because teachers lacked skills, and schools did not have the resources, to enact the plan.

The new draft curriculum has removed around 20 percent of material, a response to allegations the current curriculum is “crowded”. For cyber-skills to be suggested as an addition is therefore notable, although they may not survive the consultation process also launched yesterday.

Australia’s national curriculum is developed by its Federal Government, which does not operate any schools. State and Territory governments get that job and, in a magnificent example of bureaucratic efficiency, can choose to use the national curriculum, or develop their own. ®

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