Brianna White

Staff member
Mar 25, 2020
This past spring, I had the opportunity to develop a virtual cybersecurity camp for young women and girls called CompuGirls. CompuGirls was founded in 2006 by Dr. Kim Scott and introduces adolescent girls to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through culturally responsive practices and social justice.
During one of our Saturday classes, I sat in one of the virtual sessions and listened to the group conversation about the dangers of cyber vulnerabilities. The instructor likened the protection from cyber hacking to the strategies that one might take when approaching their vehicle at night in an isolated area:
“Think about when you place your key sticking outward between your fingers, just in case someone tries to attack you,” explained the instructor.
Eyes widened across the Zoom boxes, their innocence captured on screen. “Wait, what?!” exclaimed a student.
“Yeah, you need to know how to protect yourself,” replied the instructor. This conversation was one of many that reminded our learners about the dangers that exist in physical and online spaces. Women worldwide are targeted at higher rates than men for online and offline violence. Yet, I wonder, are other affinity groups having the same conversations about safety online, and in the real world, in the same way that we are? Better yet, how are we promoting physical and online spaces that consider the complex and marginalized social identities our students hold?
This generation of youth, or “Zoomers” as they’ve been called, need clear guidance and instruction on safely navigating physical and online spaces. As a millennial, I emerged from adolescence with a relatively small digital footprint. Now, as a parent and teacher, I have never seen a generation with their physical, digital, and social identities so tightly woven.
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