WASHINGTON – Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital is excited to announce a new plugged-in cybersecurity patch program and game developed by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The program and game will teach Girl Scout Juniors (ages 9-11) how to safely and defensively navigate the internet.
The program covers fundamental knowledge and best practices across four key areas: personal information and digital footprint, online safety, privacy and security, and cyberbullying. The curriculum was designed and developed pro bono by HPE’s women in cybersecurity employee group, which is dedicated to encouraging and supporting more women in the field and raising more awareness about the growing importance of cybersecurity. As part of the program, HPE has also developed an educational online game, called Cyber Squad, designed to teach girls cybersecurity literacy via an interactive, narrative format that takes players through real-life scenarios and simulates the consequences of both risky and safe online behaviors. Girls that complete the program and game will receive a patch to display on their uniforms/vests certifying their newfound cybersecurity knowledge.
“Girls are going online earlier and earlier, and it’s especially crucial that they are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to be savvy consumers, to protect themselves, their identity and data,” said Lidia Soto-Harmon, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital. “Through collaborating with the passionate women in cybersecurity at HPE to make cyber smarts fun, we are not only sparking new interest in STEM for girls, but getting them excited about technology – through technology.”
Today, the average child receives their first smartphone at 10.3 years old (or younger), and 39 percent of children create their first social media account at 11.4 years. Yet many children lack the cybersecurity knowledge they need to protect themselves, particular as they enter their teenage years and navigate the digital landscape more independently. For example:
·Only61 percent of teens and tweensuse privacy settings on social media sites. Thirty percent have posted their phone number online, and 14 percent have posted their home addresses online. Additionally, 52 percent allow location sharing on apps indiscriminately.
·Eighty percent of youth have witnessed cyberbullying, but 25 percent report they would not know what to do if harassed or bullied online.
·Twenty-seven percent of youth would be willing to meet or have already met up with someone in-person who they first met online.
·Eighty-six percent of girls claim to be able to conduct online chats without their parents’ knowledge, and 69 percent of teens regularly receive online communications from strangers without telling parents or guardians.
The HPE Cybersecurity Patch program was first tested by local Girl Scout Troop 5330 in McLean, VA. According to Girl Scout Maya T., “Understanding cybersecurity is important because there are a lot of bad and unsafe websites on the internet. Knowing about cybersecurity can help you to stay safe.”
Girl Scout Bella R. also from Girl Scout Troop 5330 stressed, “I’m a lot more careful with my passwords. I tell my friends not to share their passwords with anybody, don’t take any pictures in front of their house showing their house number, and when taking a selfie, don’t wear a shirt that says where they are.”
To encourage more girls to discover and excel in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), Girl Scouts has committed to helping close the gap through robust STEM programming, including launching dozens of new technology and science-focused badges and Journey programs. Seventy-seven percent of Girl Scouts say that because of the organization, they are considering careers in technology.
“Kids are becoming more mobile, networked and connected, but this also comes with alarming risks and dangers. Making basic cybersecurity awareness at a young age is imperative, and as fundamental as safety skills in the physical world, like learning how to cross the street,” said HPE Chief Information Security Officer Liz Joyce. “As someone who tackles cyber risks and crime by day and goes home to a young daughter at night, I know just how critical this education is. Through this collaboration, we hope to arm Girl Scouts with the cybersecurity literacy and knowledge they need to be savvy, secure and safe online, and to empower them to be good digital citizens.”
More about the Cyber Squad game
The Cyber Squad online game was designed by the BAFTA award-winning game studioRomero Games and simulates cybersecurity issues such as phishing, cyberbullying and online safety through a narrative, role-playing interface. The game places players and their avatars in real-life social and digital situations with online safety and privacy concerns. As a result of their decisions, the players experience either positive or negative outcomes. They are rewarded for safe decisions, and conversely, witness how risky choices unfold in the storyline and impact their avatar and group of friends whether online, at school or home. Cyber Squad comes with multiple-choice trivia features to quiz players on their earned cybersecurity knowledge, allowing them to test their cyber smarts against peers in face-to-face group settings. The game is also being launched to Girl Scouts as a printable board game, which aims to enable a more interactive style of play in-person.
Read HPE's press release here.
To learn more, visit gscnc.org/STEM.