The Carnegie Cyber Academy

Common Sense Media says

Complete fun challenges, learn how to be safe online.






What parents need to know

Positive messages

The academy offers tips, which emphasize respecting others and avoiding negative people and content, to help kids safely use the Internet and email.


One activity helps kids identify sketchy content on Web site homepages, including references to violence and gore.

Not applicable

Kids answer characters' questions by choosing from pre-determined responses.


The game is ad-free.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Kids can't chat with each other when playing and are reminded to avoid using their full name when registering.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that kids need to download the game to their computer, which takes about 15 minutes on a PC or Mac with a DSL connection. Playing the game teaches them some basic ways to stay safe online by identifying spam emails, ads they shouldn't click on, and chat comments they probably shouldn't respond to.

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension


Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • following codes of conduct

Tech Skills

  • social media
  • evaluating media messages

Engagement, Approach, Support


"Carnegie Cadets" game takes 5-10 minutes to download and about that long for kids to get situated. Kids will enjoy completing the "training missions" and the cute Flash games that test their knowledge of Internet safety and privacy.

Learning Approach

The site and accompanying game tackle Internet safety from every angle, baking knowledge right into the games. The skills kids learn here should transfer into everyday computer use and keep them aware of dangers.


Games and missions have great tutorial help, but the first few minutes of “Carnegie Cadets” is a little disorienting while users work out the rules of the game. It’s also unclear how many missions there are to be completed.

What kids can learn


Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension


Responsibility & Ethics

  • making wise decisions
  • following codes of conduct

Tech Skills

  • social media
  • evaluating media messages

Kids can learn key online safety practices, including how to recognize spam subject lines, dangerous pop-up ads, sketchy chat comments, and cyberbullies. They're given detailed instructions on both identifying and dealing with potentially unsafe online elements; then they're able to play games and test what they've learned. While kids can review tips as often as they'd like, specific feedback (What makes this ad spam?) would help them build even stronger safety skills. Rules and understanding about online safety will stick with kids even after the fun and games are over.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Parents say

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Kids say

What's it about?

After downloading the CARNEGIE CYBER ACADEMY game, kids can talk to characters and complete brief challenges to learn about cyber safety and earn gold badges. Each activity comes with a brief lesson about spam email, questionable pop-up ads, and other online safety topics. Kids can always review the information again if they need to and can repeat a game if they don't score high enough for a badge. The site is easy to navigate, and there's plenty to do. Kudos to the Cyber Academy for offering valuable information in a fun, engaging format.

Is it any good?


Created by the Information Networking Institute (INI) at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the CARNEGIE CYBER ACADEMY teaches kids about email and Internet safety by challenging them to complete a series of tasks. After downloading the game to their desktop, kids zip around different areas of the academy, asking characters questions and helping them find missing items. The game activities are preceded by a brief lesson. To practice identifying spam, kids choose which emails should be trashed based on their subject line; cadets also learn to keep chat rooms safe by tossing strangers who ask for personal information. The ratio of information and activities is just right -- kids will have fun learning valuable online safety tips, and because the site includes detailed instructions for each challenge, they should be able to find their way around the academy fairly easily.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how kids can stay safe on the Internet. The site offers tips on recognizing spam and keeping your personal information private. Review the major concepts discussed and ask kids: What kind of information should you never post in a profile or share with someone when chatting online?


  • Users can talk with characters in the game, but they can't type responses; instead, you choose from a few pre-written answers to tell the characters how you feel. Why would that be safer than being able to say whatever you want? What kind of information could that type of system prevent you from sharing?


  • How much time should you spend playing in a virtual world like the Cyber Academy -- instead of the real world? Talk about what your family feels is an appropriate amount of time to spend online every day, and read our article on setting time limits that stick.


Website details

Genre:Virtual Worlds
Pricing structure:Free

This review of The Carnegie Cyber Academy was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 8 years old November 4, 2012


What other families should know
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns


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