In celebration of International Day of the Girl, Actua Canada, an organization that delivers STEM programs to young people in Canada, held a panel on cyber empowerment for young girls.
Toronto Star columnist, Tiffany Gooch, moderated the panel. It featured MobileSyrup’s Shruti Shekar, Jodie Wallis from Accenture’s AI team, Tauna Mills from TD Canada and Jennifer Flanagan, the CEO of Actua.
When it comes to cyber empowerment for young girls, the panellists described two fronts. There’s the defensive front and the skills front. The defensive front looks at the implications of technology and the need to protect young girls.
The skills front looks at technology in terms of young girls going on to have careers in tech and business. It’s important that young girls know how to use technology and how to be productive with it, according to the panelists.
“There is power in taking ownership and getting excited about technology,” Wallis said during the panel.
However, young girls must also be cautious when it comes to technology and cybersecurity. The panellists stated that it’s important that they’re operating in way that keeps them safe.
They need to recognize that there is no real intimacy when it comes to technology, according to Mills. She said young girls need to realize that it’s not just them and another person, it’s the whole world that they’re interacting with.
Learning to adapt to technology
When it comes to cybersecurity and technology, parents need to acknowledge that young girls will make mistakes and that’s okay.
“Let them make a mistake like they would at a playground, this is just a different playground,” Flanagan stated.
Young girls and parents need to understand that technology is messy, but they need to be logical and stay calm when dealing with it. Parents can help with this by better understanding the technology that their young girls are using.
If parents are worried about the apps and platforms that their girls are using, they need to remember not to panic. It’s important to take the time to learn what the apps are and to educate yourself on the technology that your children are using.
If you’re unsure what a particular app is, you can watch a quick video to educate yourself on the app, said Flanagan. It’s essential to understand what the app is and what the potential risk associated with it are.
Taking steps to protect cybersecurity
Flanagan outlined that there are important steps that young girls can take to ensure their cybersecurity. She noted that it’s necessary for them to recognize that they’re in control.
Young girls need to be aware of the risks out there, but understand that they can take care of themselves and their security.
Flanagan stated that communication between young girls is something that is crucial to ensure cybersecurity.
“It’s important that these girls have an open line of communication with their parents, because we want them to come to us if they see any trouble happening,” she said.
Empowerment does not mean that they’re on their own now, she said. It means giving them the skills that they need and then helping them as they move along.
It’s important that girls are taught from a young age to follow a set of safety rules when it comes to using the internet and technology, according to Flanagan. They need to understand that they must never give away their personal information or passwords online.
Flanagan says it’s important to set age-appropriate rules to ensure the safety and young girls when it comes to technology.
The panelists stated that it’s important to recognize that the most empowered women have an army of women behind them. Young girls need to recognize that they’re not alone.
We also need to reach a place where it’s the norm to see women in tech. The panelists acknowledged that it’s essential to have more women on boards and in government. It starts from the top, and that’s where more women need to be.
Image credit: Actua Canada