The Digital Citizenship Imperative

I just had a presentation from three tenth grade computer science students that literally blew me away on avoiding e-mail scams and internet fraud.

(This is part of the initial internet security and safety module we do first in computer science -- I do a scaled down version in fundamentals. Safety first!)

They shared the 2006 list of Top Ten Internet Scam Trends from the NCL fraud center.

Here are some points that they made:
  • Consumers under the age of 30 account for 27% of all internet fraud complaints (as the victims) --but they are more likely to fall for auction scams (items sold but not delivered), general merchandise, advance fee loans, and fake check scams (where someone sends you a check but then wants a refund and you wire it back before their check clears.)

  • Auctions are the #1 fraud item on the Internet with an average loss of $1,331 and that is not nearly as high as it was in 2003 before ebay removed the link on their site to

  • Initial contact with crooks has now shifted to be mostly on web pages and not e-mails (69%).

    We just think of spam and unwitting senior citizens but statistically only 8% of victims are over 60.
An increasing number of people in foreign countries are taking money via Internet scams with 42% of "crooks" being based in foregn countries. Additionally, the top method of taking money is wire transfer (46%) with the second method being credit card (20%)

We require students to take driving lessons because we want to keep our roads safe. I believe that we have an imperative to teach Digital Citizenship -- which encompasses far more than safety and privacy but how to effectively relate to others on the Internet.

I think this is a great case to look at in classes who are studying digital citizenship -- it may just blow away some of their stereotypes as it did mine.

We must not think that because we are more technically savvy that this sort of thing cannot happen to those we know. Just because a child knows how to use a computer does not impart wisdom into the brain behind the fingers. It is our job to educate.

What are you doing to teach digital citizenship?

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