Recently, my colleague Jorge and I had the unique opportunity to speak at Career Day for a program called Communities in Schools at Carroll Bell Elementary here in San Antonio, Texas. For over thirty years, Communities in Schools has helped K-12 students in school graduate and go on to bright futures. Their mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. I was invited by the site coordinator to speak, and it was such an incredible pleasure to speak to children about what we do at Jungle Disk and how we do it.
Jorge and I were a little nervous while we planned what we were going to say to an audience of elementary students. It’s one thing to sit and chat about school or games to a child, but it’s quite different to try to explain what cybersecurity is, the complexities of technology and what the cloud even is. But, luckily, we consulted with some early childhood educators and used our technical and sales acumen to create some activities we could use to keep the attention of the little ones while maintaining the interest of the older children. Plus, candy…we brought candy (everyone needs a backup plan)!
When we arrived, Mrs. Trevino, the Community in Schools site coordinator, and her team had literally rolled out a red carpet for us. There were about a hundred kids waiting for us after having their afternoon snack. Our first activity was to explain what technology is by pointing out how they use it in their everyday life. We asked them for examples of technology, and the kids’ hands shot up. They all had a great understanding of what we meant by iPads, iPhones and game consoles, but one child said, “like, a hard drive?” He looked to be about nine-years-old. I’m still so impressed by their answers to our questions and their increased curiosity about what we do.
The second activity involved gathering a bunch of kids in a circle to explain how data moves across the Internet. We took some juggling balls and had the kids throw them to other kids in the circle to simulate movement across a big network. We then had a quick discussion about the importance of password protection. In fact, we had the kids come up with a good password, (they came up with Pizza123) and told them not to tell Jorge, who we sent out of the room. When Jorge came back, we kept Jorge, the “hacker,” out of our circle of trust with our good password. Of course, we secretly told Mrs. Trevino to accidentally spill the beans to Jorge, and that allowed Jorge into the circle of trust, which made him give all the kids a virus. The kids were right there with us. They understood what a virus is and even gave explanations. Answers like such as, “A virus is a thing that keeps you from being able to get things done, It makes your computer run slow, and it makes your computer sick, like when you have to go to the doctor,” were all completely accurate. The responses gave me hope for the future of technology safety and best practices. We explained to them that if a bad guy gets into your account, he can make your computer sick and Jungle Disk helps people by providing encrypted cloud backups to replace your data if it’s lost, network threat protection to keep your data safe from hackers, and email archiving to keep your emails safe. It was incredible to see how much they understood and how much our words really seemed to resonate. They are such bright kids!
We ended the event with a Q&A. The kids asked us really fun questions about what our days were like and what inspired us to go into technology, where we are from and how old we are. At the end of Q&A, we gave them all candy, which I think won them all over. Ultimately, I really think that was one of the most important things I did this month, maybe even this year so far. Community outreach is one of the best ways to combat cyber threats. This is why our CEO, Bret Piatt, does Cyber Talk Radio. I was really inspired by those young faces looking back at me, and I was energized by their enthusiasm and amazing insight. Thanks Communities in Schools, for the opportunity!
To to learn more or donate to Communities in Schools, click here.