Even as the UK government pushes 'coding' into the national curriculum, the National Crime Agency is warning parents to be on the lookout for cyber crime warning signs including an interest in programming and an erratic sleep schedule.

Despite initiatives like the Year of Code, funding for cyber security education, and the official placement of coding - the hip new name for what was previously called programming - into the national curriculum, there are those in government and its associated security services who clearly still mistrust technology and those who use it. This has been made clear by the publication of an advice document by the National Crime Agency, formerly known as the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, which gives parents, carers, and teachers a check-list of warning signs that a youth may be heading into a life of cyber crime.

The document offers a number of 'warning signs of cyber crime' which 'may indicate a young person is at risk of getting involved in cyber crime.' The list in full:
  • Is your child spending all of their time online?
  • Are they interested in coding? Do they have independent learning material on computing?
  • Do they have irregular sleeping patterns?
  • Do they get an income from their online activities, do you know why and how?
  • Are they resistant when asked what they do online?
  • Do they use the full data allowance on the home broadband?
  • Have they become more socially isolated?

Those playing along at home and thinking back to their own youth may be able to tick at least a few, if not the majority, of these boxes - and several, such as an interest in coding, are behaviours the government itself is trying to instil in the nation's youth. Although the NCA goes on to offer a list of 'ways to use cyber skills positively', the overriding focus of the message is clear: children learning about computers by themselves are not to be trusted.

The publication has generated considerable disbelief on social networking, with commentators suggesting the checklist is 'astonishingly misguided and backwards,' 'bonkers,' 'tripe,' and even 'literally the definition of a web developer.'
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