Educating youth on cyber awareness

Online learning has become the need of the hour and the most viable resource that has come to the aid of children and their learning in this time of crisis. But, at the same time, there is a pressing need to be aware and informed about some of the grave cyber threat that students may be exposed to while learning online.

For addressing this concern, NCPCR, NCERT along with CyberPeace Foundation supported by Whatsapp, Twitter, UNICEF officially announced the launch of an online ‘eRaksha Competition 2020’ in June which is now inviting registrations from School and college students, teachers, parents and Caregivers.

They have also announced “Cyber Peace Honors” — an award conferred to an individual, a group of individuals or even an institution who have consistently worked on online safety and cyber security to facilitate a peaceful, resilient and inclusive cyberspace for all.

Participants will be shortlisted on the basis of the form they fill online through the eRaksha portal.

The objective of this competition is to create awareness and infuse a sense of resilience amongst the children and youth for navigating the online space, especially at a time when internet usage by children has surged exponentially owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per research studies undertaken by CyberPeace Foundation(CPF), most children are currently vulnerable to cyber threats such as cyberbullying and cybercrimes owing to the lockdown. A recent report by CPF found that 80 percent of school children in Maharashtra do not report the cybercrimes they faced to their parents, schools or authorities.

The problem is further compounded by the fact that most children and their parents are not aware of the nature of these threats that children face. CPF has also noticed that schools, in particular, are vulnerable to malicious individuals enter unsecured online conferencing applications in order to conduct mischief.

Schools across India lack the requisite cybersecurity infrastructure to tackle such issues thereby elevating the need for educational campaigns like eRaksha to educate students.

CPF envisions to leverage this competition to identify and groom talent who would potentially become cybersecurity experts and researchers. CPF estimates that India needs to ramp up its count of cybersecurity personnel by multiple folds in order to secure the digital infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Talking about the competition, Vineet Kumar, Founder, CyberPeace Foundation, “Through the eRaksha Competition, the participants, especially women and children will be encouraged to think creatively what online safety and digital citizenship mean to them and share their ideas through the various tracks of the competition. In the first edition held in 2019 we received over 15,000 entries from across the country, and also Russia and the UAE. The competition brought out numerous innovative ideas that were received well by experts from the industry, government and academia.”