PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced the launch of a cybersecurity curriculum geared at educating young girls on cybersecurity skills. Launched in partnership with Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital and targeted at Junior Girl Scouts (ages 9-11), the program will help girls safely and defensively navigate the internet, covering fundamental knowledge and best practices across four key domains: personal information and digital footprint; online safety; privacy and security; and cyberbullying. As part of the newly minted program, HPE is also debuting an educational online game, called Cyber Squad, designed to teach children 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. Girl Scouts who complete the program and game will receive a patch to display on their uniforms/vests certifying their newfound cybersecurity savvy and smarts.
“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.”
As children gain online access earlier and earlier, they are increasingly vulnerable to damaging online behaviors and privacy risks, including social engineering, cyberbullying and exposure to malicious actors and cybercrime. Today, the average child receives their first smartphone at 10.3 years old, 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, particularly as they enter their teenage years and navigate the digital landscape more independently. For example:
- Only 44 percent of young people use a password on their mobile devices. Twenty-nine percent of pre-teens and teens know other people’s online passwords.
- Only 61 percent of U.S. teens and tweens use privacy settings on social media. Thirty percent have posted their phone number online, and 14 percent have posted their home addresses online.
- Eighty percent of youth have witnessed cyberbullying, but 24 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.
- Ninety-four percent of parents believe they know what their children are doing online, but nearly 70 percent of pre-teens admit to hiding online activities.
Aiming to close this gap, HPE has closely partnered with Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital to design a local educational program for Girl Scouts aiming to equip girls with cybersecurity awareness, knowledge and skills. The largest Girl Scouts council in the nation, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital serves 60,000 girls in the Greater Washington Region, including Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. HPE also aims to launch the game and curriculum to other international markets and youth organizations down the line, and to other Girl Scouts councils in the future.