Cybersecurity in the Classroom: What Teachers Can Do

classroom cybersecurity
(Image credit: Pixabay)

With the ever-increasing presence of technology in our classrooms and our daily lives, it is more important than ever for teachers to be aware of the risks associated with using technology with students. We need to understand the potential perils as well as the safeguards and what to do if there is a security breach. 

These essential topics can open opportunities to support critical thinkers and problem solvers. Fortunately, there are tremendous resources available to you online.

One of the best sites for educators is Common Sense Education, which offers many free resources to support us as teachers, students, and the community. Before diving into any other site, it would be worth reviewing their research, lessons, and other resources

Many aspects of cybersecurity need to be considered, however, there are three significant areas worth focusing on for your classroom.

Classroom Cybersecurity: Password Protection 

One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from cybersecurity threats is to create strong passwords that are at least 12 characters long and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. In addition, you should create unique passwords for each account you have. To keep your passwords safe, you can use a password manager or write them down in a safe place. 

There are excellent resources to support teaching about password safety:

  • Sphero lessons teach the fundamentals of password creation while using the Sphero BOLT. Minimal coding knowledge is needed to create robust opportunities for students to explore password safety and other aspects of cybersecurity. 
  • Cyber.Org has ways to test our password strength and many lessons to enrich our understanding of cybersecurity. 
  • Nearpod's 21st Century Skills Program has additional content that a district can purchase to highlight all aspects of digital literacy, including password protection. 

Think Before You Click 

Phishing scams are a common way for hackers to steal personal information. Phishing emails often look as if they are from legitimate companies. Still, these are designed to trick you into clicking on a malicious link or downloading a virus. A simple pause and examination before we click can help keep us safe. 

There are so many fun ways to help our students practice these skills, including:

  • Be Internet Awesome offers excellent activities, slide decks, and games for your upper elementary students. The games are fun and engaging enough that students will be excited to share what they learn with one another. 
  • EverFi has an entire unit on digital wellness that will take your students through every aspect of their digital wellness. Lesson 4 explores identifying threats and helps them learn more about passwords. 
  • CIAS uses CyBear characters and card games to teach all about cybersecurity. Request your free classroom pack of cards and print these tremendous offline activities to teach about cyber attacks and safety. 

Using Technology for Good 

Students need strong support when engaging online with others. As we teach character education, SEL, and DEI, we must support students' social media use. 

Students need to know essential terms such as bystander, upstander, and ally. While much teaching in the past has focused on what not to do online, we have the opportunity to help students see the potential that our online presence can do to bring social good. 

Exploring our online world in the classroom can seem daunting, but there are so many incredible resources available, including:

  • is a great place to help us understand the warning signs and give us a toolkit to share with students to help protect them. 
  • DigCit Institute offers month-long celebrations during which students and teachers share all the great ways they use technology for good. Check out their month-long #GlobalStudentShowcase recordings from April 2023 and follow them on social media for more opportunities to learn and participate. 
  • Butter is a movie that your students will be on the edge of their seats while watching. It tackles mental health, suicide, and bullying in an engaging film. Then, check out the free curriculum created by Lisa Highfill, one of the Hyperdocs creators, to engage your students on these complex topics. 

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Laurie Guyon is the Coordinator for Model Schools at WSWHE BOCES in Saratoga Springs, New York, and a trainer with NYSCATE. She is also an author, the Capital Region Director for NYSCATE, and an adjunct professor for SUNY Plattsburgh.