Cybersecurity may be a top priority for schools, but Canadian high school students are finding ways around those efforts, according to the Back to School survey from McAfee.

Nearly a quarter of students surveyed have successfully tried to get around the cyber restrictions put in place by school to get access to banned content. 63 per cent of students were also able to access all, or some, social media sites on school-owned connected devices despite those restrictions. YouTube is the most popular site students would bypass security for, followed by Facebook or Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, and then Snapchat.

This isn’t due to lack of trying by schools across Canada. 78 per cent of students have been provided with some sort of cybersecurity education or guidelines before getting access to school-owned devices, with 34 per cent getting repeated reminders of said guidelines throughout the year. 32 per cent only received those instructions the first time, with 12 per cent saying that a teacher tried to go over those guidelines but the students knew more than the teacher.

Almost a quarter of students did not receive any cybersecurity education or guidelines.

The situation isn’t too different at home, with only about one third of parents regularly talking with their high school age children about cybersecurity. 13 per cent of 16 to 18 year olds have never had this type of talk with their parents.

Considering the vast majority of high school students spend at least one hour per day using internet connected devices at school, schools – and parents – should keep cybersecurity in mind. Especially as students born in the digital age become even more adept at using technology.

Other highlights from the report include:

  • A quarter of students admit to cheating with connected devices – meaning that number is probably a fair bit higher.
  • 18 per cent of 14-18 year olds say they have been cyberbullied, with more females than males. 21 per cent and 14 per cent respectively, suffering from this form of bullying.
  • Facebook is the most popular platform for cyber bullying, followed by Instagram, and Snapchat.
  • 69 per cent of students feel that they would be comfortable talking with a teacher, coach, or school administrator if they were cyberbullied.
  • Only half of the students surveyed feel like their teachers and school openly discuss cyber bullying and are actively trying to prevent it.
  • Slightly more than one third of students feel that cyber bullies are getting in enough trouble or reprimanded enough.

McAfee surveyed 500 Canadian high school students between June 28 and July 5 this year for the Back to School survey.

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