Parents should be encouraging their children to spend more time online so that they can "save the country", the former head of GCHQ has said.

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Let your kids spend more time online to ‘save the country’, says ex-GCHQ chief

Britain lacks cyber skills and is “desperately” short of computer scientists and engineers, warns a former cyberespionage chief.

Mr Hannigan, who stood down as the director of Britain’s electronic surveillance agency in January, was responding to remarks made by the Children’s Commissioner for England.

She said very young children are on the internet for more than eight hours a week, while 12 to 15-year-olds spend more than 20 hours a week online.

A new “digital five-a-day” campaign aims to ensure children are not left to use smartphones, computers or tablets without agreed boundaries, she said.

But Mr Hannigan warned the country lacked the broad “cyber skills” needed now, never mind in the next 20 years.

“Traditional methods will not solve this. There are many excellent computer science and engineering teachers, but not enough,” he wrote.

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