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K - 12

Children are curious, adventurous, and trusting, but may not have the experience or awareness to recognize dangers. This makes them easy prey for online predators. It is therefore crucial that they learn good Internet habits. It’s never too early to start talking with your kids about cybersecurity and responsible online practices keeping in mind that children are more likely to absorb lessons from activities that engage them. There are many resources available to introduce children to the concept of cybersecurity and to teach them ways to be safe online.
  • The Cynja.The Cynja: The Cyber Ninja, or Cynja, began as a graphic novel and has expanded to several novels, all available in electronic format. The Cynja app is also available, providing a safe space for children to play and interact online while giving parents control of how much of the site they can use. The villains in the series are worms, viruses, bots, and other cyber threats that exist in the real world. The authors hope that using this fun and appealing format will not only instill good cybersecurity habits in children, but also interest them in entering the cybersecurity field, a field predicted to suffer a shortage of qualified workers for at least the next decade. You can learn all about the novels and the app at

  • In 2014, Business Insider published an article ( listing the top things that cybersecurity experts teach their own children. Although several years old, the article contains best practices that are still both relevant and important. Among the lessons that the article recommends are:
    • Educate early and often.

    • If you wouldn't do it face to face, don't do it online.

    • Beware of strangers bearing gifts.

    • Anything that is put online should be assumed to be permanent.

    • Boundaries also bring freedom.

    • Always install updates.

Elementary students at a library table looking at an open laptop computer.

School Programs

Parents are naturally the primary source for their children's education regarding safe internet practices. Teachers are also well situated to help students learn about cybercrime, especially if and when assigning projects that require students to work online.

  • The mission of the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) provides teacher and administrator resources, including the C-SAVE program (, which volunteer training opportunities based on age group along with materials designed to help teachers provide ongoing instruction in online safety.

  • The National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC), the academic division of the Cyber Innovation Center, is focused on growing and educating the next generation cyber-literate workforce through K-12 education. The United States Department of Homeland Security Cyber Education Training Assistance Program (CETAP) supports NICERC through a grant to develop and distribute cyber, STEM, and computer science curricula to educators across the country. ( NICERC provides a curriculum that includes Cyber Literacy 1, Cyber Literacy 2, Cyber Science and Cyber Society. The curriculum is free for K-12 teachers in the United States.

  • The National Security Agency (NSA) offers a variety of ad hoc resources for classrooms as well. Teachers can speak with the NSA to:

    • Request speakers to come to their classrooms.

    • Start cybersecurity extracurricular programs at their schools.

Extracurricular and Summer Programs
  • GenCyber is a five-day summer camp for learning about cybersecurity in a classroom environment. It is free and available in almost every state.
  • Many colleges/universities and local governments have summer programs for students of all ages. Check resources near you.

  • CyberPatriot ( is the National Youth Cyber Education Program run by the Air Force Association.  At the center of CyberPatriot is the National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, which is designed to interest K-12 students in pursuing careers in cybersecurity. CyberPatriot has three programs based on age:

    • A national competition for middle and high school teams that challenges them to identify vulnerabilities to a fictional system and to address them, improving the fictional company’s security posture.

    • AFA CyberCamp Program with both standard and advanced programs designed to encourage students to pursue STEM-related activities outside of the school year. There is no age requirement, however it is recommended due to the level of curriculum that students be in 7th-12th grade.

    • The CyberPatriot Elementary School Cyber Education Initiative is a set of three fun, interactive learning modules aimed at increasing awareness of online safety and cybersecurity principles.