Scamming our youth

Students aren’t adequately prepared to protect themselves against fraud online


Graphic by Alexis Bahensky

People are not being properly educated on how to protect themselves from scamming, leading to financial ruin for many when they enter adulthood.

Alexis Bahensky, Opinions Editor

Our generation has more access than ever to the web. An increase in internet usage means more minds on the web waiting to be tricked by online scammers. This wouldn’t be a problem if students were prepared to handle these types of situations; however, it seems that generations before us have failed to properly teach these valuable lessons.

While an increase in technology should mean more protection, scammers have found ways to abuse these advancements. They are starting to make their scams more realistic and believable, making it hard to differentiate if something is real, or if a scammer is attempting to take your information and money. This makes it imperative that students are taught how to use their electronic devices correctly from the beginning, and schools can help with that.

Why would students have to worry about these things, they’re only in high school? While this may be true, college students especially seem to be targeted by many scammers. Many scams that affect students include social media ads, credit card and student loan scams, emails regarding false scholarships and ones informing of different kinds of employment. Even though these mainly apply to students already in college, learning how to avoid these situations in high school will help them out in the long run, especially when it means keeping their money safe to pay off their real student loans while avoiding sites that may try to use student debt to scam people out of their money.

This isn’t only happening to students, older generations are also affected. This shows how the generations before them have also failed in educating them properly to protect themselves against scammers and their scams. An article from the Omaha World-Herald stated that a little over a week ago, a 74-year-old man was scammed out of over 27,000 because of a pop-up ad. This specific ad said the computer had a virus, and when he tried to call the number the man who picked it up was in fact the scammer posing as a Microsoft engineer. More Omahans were described to be scammed out of thousands due to scammers. This wouldn’t have happened if students were educated on the subject from a young age.

My experience with schools and how they handle internet safety has taught me very little. When a class involves the use of electronic devices, the first, and usually the only thing, mentioned is no plagiarism. Not even cybersecurity or computer classes seem to adequately teach students how to properly use the internet, especially when it comes to scams. However, whenever the topic is brought up it is through a quick seminar that I have only experienced in middle school. High school seems to think students already have a good understanding of how to avoid these scammers, but that isn’t the case.

Cybersecurity, especially at this age is something that needs to be considered for students, especially high schoolers. As explained before, while high school students themselves and the adults around them think that they are mature enough to handle themselves, there is still much to learn. More classes need to be implemented into our curriculums to ensure students are able to gain the understanding they need to safely avoid these scams. Cybersecurity classes help students learn how to properly keep their data and information safe while using the internet, including avoiding giving it to scammers. If our schools decide to add more of these lessons into different classes, it would allow students to avoid these situations as they would be equipped with the proper knowledge to do so.

Specific classes would indeed help to educate students; however, most of the classes we have currently that try to achieve this are not required. Since they aren’t enforced and only encouraged for students to take, most avoid these classes, which in turn, have them avoiding the important information being taught to them. While I’m a teen who is used to the internet and also believes she knows how to be safe, I wouldn’t wish to take these classes because of that ignorance, it doesn’t mean they still aren’t necessary. The main point is that these classes will prove to help these students avoid making the mistake of accidentally clicking an email that would potentially harm them.

With so many scams out there, it’s hard to protect yourself from them all; however, being educated can help lessen the chances that you fall for one of these tricks. This is a topic that must be talked about, and won’t go away anytime soon, especially with the development and expansion of the internet and its usage. We need to ensure that future generations are taught to be safe on the web at a young age before they experience what many Omahans have in the past few weeks.