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Teaching Kids Cyber-Smarts: Coding and Online Safety’s Relationship

Published on July 19, 2023 | Posted in ,  

Parents teach kids early on to look both ways before crossing and look out for cars because knowing how to navigate the risks of the world around them keeps them safe. People must be able to get around, but we need to know the safe and proper way to do it.

How do parents ready their kids to navigate the online world safely? Knowing how to code helps kids look under the hood and understand the digital world in a way non-coders can’t. Let’s check out other reasons why knowing how to code helps teach kids cyber-smarts.

1. Recognize the Signs

Coders can tell when a website is sketchy or dubious because they can better recognize the signs. They know what URLs, HTTPS, and TLDs are, which helps them recognize malicious phishing websites.

Kids may be tempted to click on ads or interact with malicious websites when they lack this fundamental knowledge. Sometimes these bad actors know how to make sites that appeal to kids; taking a coding class for kids gives young people the tools to know what to avoid.

Kids who know what online safety does and doesn’t look like will no doubt be safer.

2. Bullying

People spend more and more time in the online world, and old problems from the offline world can migrate to the digital one. School students have always contended against bullying, and sadly the digital world has it too. Unlike traditional forms of bullying, cyberbullying follows students back home when school is over, so it’s particularly pernicious and harmful.

RP4K teaches safe and healthy online practices, and that begins with being kind and nice to people. We all want to design and play video games and have fun! Coding is inherently collaborative, as coders look for bugs in each other’s work and gently push each other to get the best results possible in their work.

RP4K classes are small, as they have a maximum of four students. In this quiet and orderly environment, your child will thrive with their peers. None of the classroom management issues that crop up when too many young people are packed into the same place will creep up here. The nature of coding and the environment RP4K provides neatly discourages bullying and helps form students resist bullying when they see it elsewhere.

We teach custom modifications to games like Minecraft, which is rated safe for kids over the age of seven. Like any open online space, some Minecraft players can be hostile, tossing out insults, swear words, and worse. It’s quite rare. It’s impossible to shield people from the dangers of the outside world forever.

Minecraft can be addictive, but it’s also a helpful learning tool for many kids. Teaching children about the risks and how to navigate them early is the best way to keep them safe.

3. Hacking

The word “hacking” may have bad connotations for many people, but ethical hacking isn’t merely a positive thing — it’s essential in the pushback against serious online threats. Many experts say ransomware attacks, IT outages, and data breaches are top concerns for global businesses. They threaten sectors like education, research, communications, healthcare, government and more.

Knowing how to write code in the same languages as malicious hackers is a necessary step towards keeping the internet and even the world at large safe. Ethical hackers help find vulnerabilities or weak points in vital programs before they’re launched, and they train colleagues and peers about best practices in cybersecurity to avoid phishing and other scams.

RP4K proudly teaches languages like C#, C++, Python, and JavaScript, some of the most in-demand languages among businesses and hackers. Ethical hacking values certain languages more than others. For example, the websites JavaScript powers incorporate outside elements and track user activity, and hackers use it for cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks to inject malicious scripts into a site via the web browser.

When they learn computer skills at RP4K, your child will learn the coding languages used to power the most popular apps, websites, and video games. They’ll also possess the tools to become an ethical hacker down the road if they so desire. We teach the coding languages that open many doors.

4. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

Parents enroll their children in coding classes to promote skills in math and STEM. Indeed, many have enjoyed taking coding classes twice a week to immerse themselves even deeper in the material.

Learning how to code helps to promote the kind of underlying transferrable critical skills kids can apply in school, work, and in their personal time surfing the web.

Becoming a responsible digital citizen means understanding how the digital world really works. People who know how to code are more likely to shape the online world rather than have it shape them.

5. Pay Attention

You can give your kids all the digital tools to help make them savvy and safe online. Still, it’s healthy to keep a sense of what they’re doing on their computer. This can be tough! Kids need space and freedom to roam around online and engage their interests, but parents need to be at least somewhat in the know.

a teacher helping her student with coding

Credit: Christina Morillo via Pexels

Speak to your child about what they’re doing, who they’re talking with, and where they’re spending time online. You can’t always be there every moment they’re surfing, nor should you be, but touching base and maintaining a vigilant eye and ear from afar is a fundamental way to keep your kids safe online.

The digital world is a wondrous place that has changed the way millions of people live day to day. There’s no going back to the time before the internet. Giving kids the digital skills to understand how this world works empowers them to create products and interact with them more safely.

RP4K teaches kids how to make video games to ensure they have fun, and that’s what we prioritize above everything. However, the specific computer skills and mental habits they absorb will also make them navigate the digital world productively and safely.

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