Is your child a computer genius or a cyber criminal?
As a parent, you have probably never considered that your children might be committing cybercrime in their bedrooms.
Most young people enjoy using technology. Some are curious about how computers work while others wonder about system weaknesses. For instance, they may teach themselves to code, adapting existing applications or developing ones. Or prehaps they experiment with techniques and tools that they discover online. These are great skills to have and are much in demand in the technology sector. But rather than preparing them for a career, some children use technology to commit cybercrime.
Your child may not know that they are potentially breaking the law. However, ignorance is not a defence and the penalties for cybercrime are severe.
Between 2019 and 2020 there was a 107% increase in reports to the police of students engaged in cybercrime. The average age of a child referred to the National Cyber Crime Unit is 15 with the youngest only nine!
Usually, highly intelligent and male, the young cybercriminal thrives on the challenge of ‘hacking’ into systems. In addition, he enjoys the recognition and admiration of his (online) peers. While many hackers do not know that their activities are illegal, others believe that it is a victimless crime.
Advice for parents on technology and child crime
The Cyber Choices Network was created to help young people make informed choices. It encourages them to use their cyber skills in a legal way. Coordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) it is delivered by regional/local police teams. Cyber Choices aims to explain the difference between legal and illegal cyber activity and encourage individuals to make informed choices about their use of technology. It also diverts young people away from cyber-crime and promotes positive, legal technological opportunities.
If you’re looking for more specific information, then download one of these helpful leaflets: