In today’s fast-paced digital world, young people have harnessed the power of the internet to engage, advocate, and participate in society like never before. The digital realm presents incredible opportunities, but it also brings significant challenges.
Cumulative research underscores the positive impact of the internet on youth engagement, particularly in offline political and civic activities. Young individuals are leveraging social media to stay informed about political issues, organise protests, and exercise their rights.
However, in this digital landscape, they also face increased vulnerability to cyberthreats.
Youth Engagement in the Digital Age
The research published by the European Parliament in March 2023 reveals a compelling narrative. Young people today may not be actively involved in traditional political actions but they are often more passionate about disseminating political information and views online. The digital era has enabled them to amplify their voices and connect with like-minded individuals globally. Yet, this newfound empowerment comes with its own set of challenges, most notably in the realm of cybersecurity.
Addressing the Vulnerabilities
Young people, despite being savvy digital users, are the fastest growing rate of victims. According to the 2022 Better Business Bureau (BBB) Scam Tracker Risk Report, people ages 18–24 reported the highest median dollar loss ($220) of all age groups, up nearly 30% from $170 in 2021. They are more likely to fall victim to phishing links, malware downloads, and unintentional sharing of personal information online. Recognizing this gap, the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA), in collaboration with Amazon, launched a global initiative focused on consumer education for young adults aged 18-25.
The Importance of Cyber Hygiene
For young people to navigate the digital landscape safely and securely, it is paramount that they practice good cyber hygiene. Cyber hygiene entails taking proactive steps to protect devices, data, and networks from potential cyber threats. This includes using robust passwords, updating software regularly, and exercising caution when sharing personal information online. All these best practices are readily available in the GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit for Individuals with free-to-users cybersecurity tools.
A Collective Responsibility
Yet, the responsibility for cyber hygiene does not rest solely on the shoulders of young people. It is a shared obligation that necessitates collaboration from various stakeholders. Parents and families, schools, governments and policy makers, and organisations all have pivotal roles to play in safeguarding young individuals from cyber threats and ensuring their active and secure digital participation, and more needs to be done to coordinate these efforts.
Shaping the Digital Future
The digital age holds immense promise for the next generation of citizens. It provides them with a platform to amplify their voices and enact positive change. However, to fully harness these opportunities while protecting their rights, it is essential to prioritise digital literacy with youth-friendly tools. Upholding fundamental rights, promoting online safety, and fostering digital responsibility require collective effort.
By investing in education, establishing robust policies, fostering a culture of cyber safety, and collaborating with families and schools, we can empower young individuals to confidently navigate the digital landscape. In a world where online and offline spheres are interconnected, cyber hygiene and media education is the cornerstone of a secure, inclusive, and empowered digital future. It ensures that the next generation of citizens can not only participate actively in society but also do so safely and with resilience, forging a path towards a brighter and more secure digital era.
Call to Action
By working together, we can help to create a safer and more secure digital environment for young people. All interested parties are encouraged to share the Cyber Awareness for Young Adults Survey and participate in ongoing initiatives to support education campaigns. Please reach out!