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Australian youth to learn digital diligence and online safety skills from videogame

Students are being encouraged to play videogames in the classroom in order to develop skills they need when dealing with the online world safely.

According to the announcement made by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, kids should be urged to play The Lost Summer, a videogame that will develop their digital intelligence and online safety skills in the classroom.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner launched a new video game called The Lost Summer, which immerses players in a futuristic environment. The game is targeting the 11 to 14-year old market, where they are required to exercise skills such as critical thinking, empathy, resilience, respect and responsibility to complete challenges and advance through the game.

81% of the Australian youth between the ages of 8 and 17 have played online games in the past 12 months according to recent research from the eSafety Office.

Ms Inman Grant said, “We know that online gaming is hugely popular among young people.”

She added, “We’ve created a gamified experience that is engaging and will resonate with young people as they learn the importance of digital intelligence.”

She furthered, “Unfortunately, the increasing popularity of online gaming has also given rise to some negative experiences for young people, particularly in-game bullying.”

More research from the eSafety Office provides data showing that 17% of those aged 8 to 17, who played multiplayer games online, were bullied or abused during gameplay.

Ms Inman Grant explained, “Young people are bound to encounter negative online experiences. It is not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’.”

She added, “We need to provide young people with solution-focused strategies to ensure they can bounce back from tough situations.”

She said, “The Lost Summer encourages young people to exercise essential skills like critical thinking, resilience and empathy, empowering them to be agents of positive change online.”

During the game’s development stages, hundreds of Australian school children, ranging from different backgrounds, participated in the user testing. They have contributed unique insights and helped build a resource that resonates with both students and educators.

An interactive event in Sydney’s west launched The Lost Summer game, with participation of 60 students from local high schools.

The Lost Summer is made up of five chapters, with each focusing on a key area of digital intelligence. These are:

(1)    Respect - act respectfully towards others, acknowledging and appreciating that others may have different points of view, cultures and backgrounds.

(2)    Critical thinking - think critically about what you see online and ask questions to identify and analyse information that may seek to exploit or misinform.

(3)    Resilience - be resilient and respond with strength and maturity when risks are encountered online.

(4)    Responsibility - be responsible about what you say and do, by engaging positively with others and being accountable for your behaviour.

(5)    Empathy - be empathetic to others and use emotional intelligence to respect opinions, embrace diversity of opinion and freedom of speech.

Ms Julie Inman Grant, eSafety Commissioner summed up the initiative, “The Lost Summer is a fun and engaging way to get young Australians thinking about the social and emotional skills they need to navigate the online world safely.”

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