Educational video games can teach children new skills and help them to master levels of proficiency.
They can teach children the alphabet, how to build a robot, speak a foreign language, even how to safely cross a street. But can a video game teach a child how to protect themselves from being abducted by a human trafficker?
In the video game called Rescue Run, players are invited to choose a character and stop a friend from meeting up with someone they met online. In the video game, players navigate their character through busy streets, towns, and malls to reach their buddy before they meet their online pal face-to-face. The game sends an earnest message to children that they should never consent to online requests. Because as parents know, you should never trust someone you met online. The Internet and social network sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide traffickers the ability to connect with potential victims.
Video games can teach online safety
Rescue Run is one of many games available through NSteens, created by the NetSmartz Workshop, an interactive, educational program of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NetSmartz Workshop provides resources such as video games and activity cards that teach Internet education safety.
The mission of NetSmartz Workshop is to provide age appropriate videos to help teach children how to be safer on-and offline. The downloadable videos are free and appropriate for children ages 5 – 17. The program also educates parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement on issues related to missing and exploited children. KidSmartz, another free downloadable resource, is geared for children in grades K – 5.
Video games are educational and entertaining
Mixing fun with learning is a challenge when children want to be entertained, but educators have been successful weaving both into classroom curriculum.
Last spring, Google introduced a classroom curriculum and computer game to teach children about online safety and security. The curriculum called, “Be Internet Awesome” includes educational materials aimed at students in the third to fifth grades. The technology company wants children and youth to be digital savvy and encourage people to be good Internet citizens.
Video games can teach children real world values
Children play video games while learning real world values. Technology is progressing and children don’t just learn by reading textbooks and writing on chalkboards.
Educational video games teach critical thinking skills. When a child is tempted to post personal photos online, a video game can teach them the potential consequences when someone shares the photos.
Educational video games provide positive reinforcement. Games are designed to help children to succeed and reward them for their successes. When a child collects coins and receives feedback on online safety skills, they’re encouraged to go to higher skill levels.
The focus of educational video games is to teach. They also motivate them to learn. As children learn more about the Internet, they’ll learn that the Internet is like living in a home with broken locks. Anyone can get in and steal their possessions. But a greater awareness of Internet safety will empower them to make safer choices.