The Carnegie Cyber Academy

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

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.

Violence

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

Sex
Not applicable
Language

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

Consumerism

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension

Skills

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • making wise decisions

Tech Skills

  • evaluating media messages
  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

"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.

Support

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

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension

Skills

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • making wise decisions

Tech Skills

  • evaluating media messages
  • social media

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

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

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Website details

Genre:Virtual Worlds
Price:Free
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.

Quality

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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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 8 years old November 4, 2012
 
LEARNING

Disapointing.

Disapointing.
What other families should know
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns
Adult Written byg. carr July 9, 2015
 
LEARNING

My daughter loved this.

About six years ago, when my daughter was in 6th grade, I asked her to check this out for me. Besides being a parent, I'm a Girl Scout Volunteer and my work deals with education and cognition. I checked it out myself and found it fun and engaging. But I wanted to get the kid perspective before recommending it to Girl Scout parents and teachers. The Carnegie Cyber Academy is targeted at 3rd-5th graders but may also appeal to kids a year or so on either end of that spectrum; at the age when they are just becoming aware of social media and have the cognitive skills to use it. My 6th grade daughter loved it (realizing that she was a little older than the target age but she was doing me a favor). She picked up a lot of good tips on internet safety that she needed to be aware of, in spite of thinking she knew it all. Most of all, she enjoyed the healthy, positive play environment. The cadets get to play the games, solve mysteries and cyber crimes, and catch cyber crooks. They earn credits that they can spend in the canteen to furnish their dorm room. This aspect, plus the world and characters created within the environment of the campus, is reminiscent of Penguin Club. My daughter was at the age where little penguin avatars and online parties with her friends were a big draw. Cyber Academy transitioned very well from there. The only two things to be aware of... (1) Depending on the level of your child, you may need to help them get it set up and oriented to the game. (2) My daughter was playing before all of the games were completed. On a couple of games she ran into a dead-end and got frustrated. I assume that has been addressed by now and all the games are complete. To summarize, I highly recommend this game for players grades 3-5. It's a fun, healthy, game that teaches self-confidence and internet safety. The games address safety issues that you and I are not likely to get across to newly self-sufficient minds. And it's all in an equal opportunity environment! Clearly , I loved it too. I only gave it 4 stars because it wasn't complete when my daughter used it. No, I don't work for Carnegie-Mellon. When a parent comes across something this good for your child, for free (!!!), it's hard not to love it. Teachers, please take note too. This would be great for your classroom.

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