Teaching young learners cyber security
A world-first illustrated children’s book designed to teach children aged 4-7 about cyber security and how to protect their information online is being launched today by Education Scotland in partnership with the Scottish Government.
The Bongles and The Crafty Crows teaches young learners how to create passwords and passcodes using ‘three random words’, helping them to explore, play and communicate while using digital technologies, keeping their online information safer and more secure.
The book – which follows the adventures of Big Bubba, the Twins, Brainy and Pet Robot – has been designed to equip teachers, parents and carers with an attractive resource to deliver important cyber resilience skills and is supported by a range of learning activities and materials.
The book was unveiled to children and teachers at a special event held at the Abertay cyberQuarter, Scotland’s multimillion-pound cyber security research and development centre at Abertay University today [30th October 2023].
The event, hosted by Jenny Gilruth MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, saw local Primary 1 children from Our Lady’s Primary School explore a range of curriculum-linked and play-based activities to build their skills alongside the first public reading of the book.
Every Primary 1-aged child in Scotland will now receive a copy of The Bongles and The Crafty Crows in their Book Bug Bag due to be distributed in November 2023 ahead of Scottish Book Week, with Gaelic language versions sent to schools delivering in that medium.
According to a recent report by Ofcom1, 97% of children in the UK have access to the internet with 86% of 5-7-year-olds using tablet devices to go online. It is hoped the new book will provide parents and carers with a host of hints and tips on how to talk to their children about protecting their precious information online. The book and associated learning materials will also be launched on the Scottish Government’s Parent Club website.
The Bongles and The Crafty Crows is the latest in a series of illustrated children’s books, ebooks, and animated audiobooks from Story Learning that tell imaginative, funny and eco-friendly stories about The Bongles – colourful bouncy creatures who reuse, repair and upcycle objects that wash up onto the pristine shores of their paradise-like island.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, Jenny Gilruth MSP, said:
“This is a fantastic story and a great opportunity to introduce young children to cyber security.
“Digital technology is going to be at the heart of these children’s lives and it’s so important to help them learn how to stay safe online.
“I’m pleased that every P1 pupil in our schools will be receiving a copy of the book ahead of Book Week Scotland. I hope that teachers, parents and carers will use this engaging story and the learning activities that come with it to help their children learn about the importance of online safety.”
Frances O’Neill, founder and creative director at Story Learning, said:
“Using recognisable, well-known children’s characters is a fantastic way to educate young children about the importance of staying secure online. Until now, educational materials on cyber security have been targeted at older primary and secondary school-aged children, with no recognised resource for younger learners.
“The Bongles and The Crafty Crows equips teachers and parents alike with a vibrant and fun tool to talk to 4 and 7-year-olds about the importance of keeping their online information safer and more secure, and impart knowledge that will help foster a generation of responsible and internet-savvy citizens.”
Sophie Watson, aged 7, from the 18th West Lothian Beaver Scouts, said:
“The book helped me learn all about passwords and passcodes. You need to make a responsible one and not make easy passwords that people will know. I had lots of fun learning about passwords and I want to read the book again.”
Professor Liz Bacon, Principal & Vice-Chancellor at Abertay University said:
“This ground-breaking resource for Scottish schoolchildren draws from global best practice in the cybersecurity sector and we are proud to be supporting its launch at Abertay cyberQuarter, Scotland’s centre for cybersecurity research, development and innovation.
“Abertay is a gold-level Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Education and we are passionate about engaging with young people of all ages; from promoting good habits in primary schools, right through to our suite of ethical hacking and cybersecurity degrees, which provide graduate talent to the growing Scottish cyber sector.”
More information about The Bongles and The Crafty Crows, as well as instructions on how to sign up to a read-along session, is available online.