As the number of young people accessing the internet through computers, tablets and smartphones increases across the country, it’s important for them to be able to identify online safety threats such as cyberbullying, suspicious emails and dangerous websites.And school is the best place for young web surfers to learn how to fend for themselves in the online world.
For teachers in classrooms with computers and internet access, Carnegie Mellon University has developed a good way to introduce students to internet safety guidelines through its Carnegie Academy website.
At the heart of the website is the “Carnegie Cadets: The MySecure Cyberspace Game.” The interactive learning game is aimed at youngsters in fourth and fifth grades.
- Building a positive online reputation
- Dealing with cyberbullying
- Identifying spam emails
- Practicing online etiquette
- Recognizing dangerous websites
The game uses fun and colorful animations, sound effects and quizzes to keep students engaged while they learn.
How it works
Before students can start playing the game, they must register and create a user name on the Carnegie Cyber Academy website, where the game can be downloaded and installed on a desktop computer. There is no cost.
The game is chock-full of animated “cyber cadet” characters who work for a prestigious cyber defense training facility. Their training missions take them to the far reaches of cyberspace to investigate and solve reports of email and spam threats, website safety issues and cyberbullying problems.
Students start by clicking on the “Play the Game” tab. Next, they choose a cadet character and complete specialized training by reading about various cyber safety issues. Finishing training makes them eligible to go on one of the game’s four missions, which can be done in any order. Cadets earn a gold badge for each mission completed.
The missions cover fundamental skills such as how to spot spam, how to keep personal information private and how to identify website traps such as dangerous pop-up windows, forms that ask for personal information and web pages that show inappropriate content.
Clicking on the “Classroom Materials” tab launches a “Teacher’s Companion” page that boasts an impressive collection of downloadable lesson plans, games, classroom activities and printable cyber security guides aligned with the cyber security game.
There are also links to informative faculty pages that teachers can use to start classroom discussions on cyber safety. Among them:
- Computer and device defense. Describes cyber threats and viruses and tells how to respond to them.
- Cybercrimes and criminals. Summarizes cybercrimes and the people behind them. Includes a clickable cybercrime definition database.
- Cyberspace communications. Discusses safe online communications, personal information that should not be shared online and good online citizenship.
- Green computing. Explores environmental issues related to computer use and tips for reducing environmental impact.
- Academy Library. Offers tips for effective web research and determining if a site is a reliable resource.
Finally, there are links to dozens of free memory games, puzzles and quizzes on cyber security and related subjects. The games are arranged by grade level and can supplement classroom lectures or help students in independent learning programs.
An internet connection and a desktop computer are needed to play the “Carnegie Cadets: The MySecure Cyberspace Game,” which is compatible with computers running Macintosh 10.5 and Windows 2000/XP operating systems.
Computers also must have the Adobe Flash Player software installed. It’s available for most operating systems and can be downloaded free by visiting the Adobe website.
Registration on the Carnegie Cyber Academy website is required; there are no advertisements.