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Today’s children are growing up in a digital age, exposing them to all the wonders and dangers that the internet brings. It’s important to educate children about online safety: content, scams, and the people who inhabit it. What better way to do that then through games?
Many children love video games and parents should know about them too. We’re going to detail some free games that educate children on the modern dangers of being online, while letting them have some fun at the same time too.
If you have your own game recommendation, please let us know in the comments.
This is a quiz provided by the Australian government, led by a young cartoon girl called Sam. She’ll talk children through the quiz, with text and voice. It’s brief, with 11 questions total, but covers a whole range of topics like emails, passwords, the dangerous of online advertisements, and unsettling videos.
One of the nice bits about this quiz is that each page appears in a bright cartoon style with formatting to suit the content. For example, you can view thumbnails of four fictional websites to assess if they’re safe to visit, or browse an email inbox to determine if you should open or delete the messages.
Children will get feedback immediately after each question, letting them know if their answer was the most suitable. If they chose the wrong answer, then it’ll briefly explain why. For example, if you decide to tell a friend that their website is “really bad”, Sam says that’s not very nice and to think about how you’d feel if someone said that to you.
2. Digizen — Be a Responsible Online Citizen [No Longer Available]
This interactive game comes from Childnet, a non-profit organization that aims to make the internet a safe place for children. It teaches children about cyberbullying and the effect it can have on those who are targeted. It encourages them to think about how to react, emphasize, and support.
At the beginning, children can choose to play as a boy or girl and customize their appearance, which is a fun addition. Players are led through a fully voiced story of their character’s day at school. This involves talking to others and taking part in class quizzes. The game has a varied interface, like selecting dialogue or blasting the quiz answer, to help keep children engaged.
When they reach the end, players receive a score to let them know how digitally responsible they are. I would recommend that adults support their children playing the game. Although it teaches good skills, it isn’t always the best at telling them why something was the right or wrong choice, which an adult can advise on.
Who knew that cyber criminals shopped at Spymart? This game’s fun concept sees players answering quiz questions in order to take down a cyber criminal. For each question answered correctly, players can remove a dangerous gadget from the criminal’s suitcase.
The main theme of this multiple-choice quiz is protecting against online theft. That involves practices like using strong passwords, knowing who you’re talking to, and keeping software like antivirus scanners up to date. Between the questions there’s a simple dexterity challenge — click the criminal’s face as it moves between the screens in order to answer the next question.
This one has some fun music and a simple cartoon style. Children are sure to enjoy the spy themes and giggle at the silly James Bond-style gadgets in the suitcase. But, at the same time, it’s also great at teaching about protecting personal information.
Webonauts places children in a fictional Internet Academy, building their knowledge as they try to overcome The Great Static, a former pupil who has turned rogue and stolen a secret cookie recipe. It’s a fun intergalactic adventure that builds skills around the motto of observe, respect, and contribute.
Once children have tried on their desired uniform (complete with helmet, of course) they’ll move between worlds and make decisions about password security, social media sharing, bullying, and more. What’s particularly excellent is that the educational aspect is never forced — it feels like a natural part of the story.
The entire experience is joyful, with amusing character interactions and colorful artwork. Most importantly, it’s clear about its message and is one that children will remember. Once completed, players are given the opportunity to print out a certificate to show they completed the academy.
Everyone knows how to play Hangman! This version of the classic game aims to teach children about how to talk to others online and what sort of information you shouldn’t share.
With only ten questions, you can complete it fairly quickly. In addition to teaching best practices, like not telling someone your age, this quiz goes the extra mile and also defines terms like link and chatting.
Guess incorrectly enough times and the hangman will complete. At the end players, will see a score of how many they got correct. It’s a simple game, but one that’s worth a quick try as a refresher to some key tips for internet safety.
It’s important to know how to act safely online, but knowing the lingo is half the battle. This is especially true for terms like “adware” or “trojan horse” where the meaning might not be immediately obvious. As such, it’s key that children understand these words so they can get a better grasp of the online world.
This crossword gives players a group of words and clues. The aim is to click the clue and then click the word. If it’s correct, the relevant crossword section will populate and turn green. It’s simple, with a cartoon style, but works well.
Unlike a traditional crossword, players are given all the answers and just need to figure out the associated clue. That’s good for younger kids, but perhaps not for those seeking more of a challenge. As such, you might want to recreate this for your children without the words. They’ll probably feel more satisfied afterwards too.
Stay Safe Online
Hopefully your children enjoy playing the games we’ve listed and learn something about being safe online while they’re at it. If you need help, you can restrict the content your child can view. Also, take a look at these educational mobile games to make smartphone time productive for your kids.
If you’re looking for more advice, check our list of parenting websites for raising teenagers and tools to keep track of your child’s online activity.
You can also help your child or yourself stay safe outdoors. Use one of these apps to stay safe while walking alone.
Image Credit: wdnet/Depositphotos