Home Activity book aims to teach kids about cybersecurity with coloring pages, fun cartoon characters

Activity book aims to teach kids about cybersecurity with coloring pages, fun cartoon characters

cyber snackz activity book
Submitted/Photo by Travis Williams for Virginia Tech.

It’s never too early to introduce children to using the internet safely, and researchers at Virginia Tech have developed an activity book that engages elementary school students in an age-appropriate way.

Cyber Snackz Adventures in Cybersecurity teaches kids with activities and coloring pages using fun cartoon characters to get the message across.

The activity book was developed by faculty from the Virginia Tech National Security Institute who worked with other professionals, Travis and Christine Billingsley, to come up with activities, character backstories and educational information. Illustrator Chris Flemming brought the characters to life.

“The book covers topics like protecting your personal information online and not clicking on sketchy links, but it explains those topics in a way that young children can understand and with cute animals so they’ll pay attention,” said Stephanie Travis, director of the Senior Military College Cyber Institute at the Virginia Tech National Security Institute.

The book includes an internet safety pledge for children to sign after they have completed the book.

“Kids are using the internet earlier and earlier now,” Travis said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, but they need to be prepared for the kind of dangers they could run into online.”

The team also developed an introductory video and a parent’s guide with videos and additional resources.

“I understand that it’s hard to know where to start when talking to kids about these topics. I have a background in cybersecurity and it can still be difficult,” Travis said.

“We hope that the activity book can open a door and provide a resource for parents to start having those conversations.”

The project was developed with funding from a GenCyber grant from the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity and the National Science Foundation.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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