New video game targets cyber safety - Education Matters Magazine

New video game targets cyber safety

A new video game designed specifically for the classroom by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner aims to encourage digital intelligence and online safety skills among students.

Called The Lost Summer, the video game is aimed at 11 to 14-year-olds. It immerses players in a futuristic environment where they are required to exercise skills such as critical thinking, empathy, resilience, respect and responsibility to complete challenges and advance through the game.

“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,” said eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant.

Recent research from the eSafety Office shows an estimated 81% of young Australians aged between 8 and 17 have played games online in the past 12 months.

“We know that online gaming is hugely popular among young people,” said Ms Inman Grant. “We’ve created a gamified experience that is engaging and will resonate with young people as they learn the importance of digital intelligence.

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

Research from the eSafety Office also shows that 17% of those aged 8 to 17 who play multiplayer games online were bullied or abused during gameplay. “Young people are bound to encounter negative online experiences—it’s not if but when. We need to provide young people with solution-focused strategies to ensure they can bounce back from tough situations,” said Ms Inman Grant.

“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.”

Hundreds of Australian school students from a range of backgrounds participated in user testing during the game’s development, contributing unique insights and helping to build a resource that resonates with both students and educators.

The Lost Summer is available to download for free from the App Store, Google Play or for desktop at esafety.gov.au/tls.