This article was contributed by National Cyber Crime Unit

The National Crime Agency's NCCU leads the UK’s response to cybercrime, supports partners with specialist capabilities and coordinates the national response to the most serious of cyber crime threats.

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Does your child have the skills to combat cybercrime?

Image: Public Domain 


The NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) looks at how you can encourage your child to use their digital skills in a positive way and help combat cybercrime

It’s no secret that children and young people live a large proportion of their lives online. Ofcom reported that 12-15-year-olds are spending 20 hours and 6 minutes online every week.

This online presence, mixed with a rise in the number of children developing skills in coding and programming, has seen an increase in children as young as 12 getting involved in cybercrime, often without realising it or understanding the consequences of their actions.

What is cybercrime?

Cyber-dependent crime (or ‘cybercrime’) covers offences that can only be committed using a computer, computer networks or other forms of information communications technology (ICT).

Examples include:

  • Gaining unauthorised access to computer material.
  • Making, supplying or obtaining malware.
  • Carrying out a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) attack.

What are the consequences of cybercrime?  

Cybercrime is a serious criminal offence under the Computer Misuse Act (1990) and the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police take it extremely seriously.

Anyone getting involved in cybercrime could face:

  • A visit and warning from police or NCA Officers.
  • Being arrested.
  • Their computers being seized and being prevented from accessing the internet.
  • A penalty or fine.
  • A significant prison sentence (maximum life sentence.)
  • A permanent criminal record which could affect education and career prospects.

How to encourage your child to use their skills positively

Coding and programming skills are extremely valuable to have. If your child shows an interest, then you should actively encourage them to find ways to develop these skills. Doing so can increase their career prospects and help them make a positive contribution to society. 

‘Many of those interviewed cited the importance of role models either at school, in their personal lives’

The NCA interviewed teenagers and children who had been arrested or cautioned for computer-based crimes.  Many of those interviewed cited the importance of role models either at school, in their personal lives, or early in their careers, who had proved to be positive influences. These people who had recognised their interest or talent and helped them to find a way to use their skills positively. Many also acknowledged the importance of education in helping them enter the technical security industry.

Talk to your child’s school or college about what opportunities they have, or might know about in your local area, to help your child develop these skills.

Reasons to work in the cybersecurity industry

There’s something for everyone

Technology skills are highly valued within the cybersecurity industry. Roles can range from digital forensics to project management and the high demand of such skills can open up opportunities across the world.

Well-paid jobs

Salaries in cyber security are some of the fastest growing in the UK, rising an average of 14% a year, and earnings are based on merit, not a person’s age, sex or ethnicity.

A dynamic industry

With cyber-attacks being attempted every single day across the world, no day is ever the same for a cybersecurity expert.


If your child likes computer games or puzzles, a role within cyber security means they would have to overcome new challenges every day.

Working for the greater good

Your child could help people and companies all over the world stay safe from cybercrime.

Further reading

Cyber Security Challenge UK  

Inspired Careers  

Digital Defenders  

GCHQ’s Cyber First programme  

Code club (9-13’s) 

The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or NCA-CEOP.

Updated: ​May 2018

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