Sustainability in the Home: How computer games could make your household more sustainable

Trying to convince children to do something about climate change can be a challenging task. They have been born into a world where this abstract concept – so much less urgent than who’s sitting next to who in Geography or why a sibling got an unfairly large amount of time on the computer – is disagreed upon, ignored or misunderstood by a large amount of the adult population, let alone understood by children. The questions is:  how do we cultivate their understanding and encourage the practise of sustainability at a young age, without paralysing children with fear about the future or losing the battle for their attention to an iPad game?


An unlikely medium has stepped forward to fire a passion for sustainability in young people’s minds, where consequence systems for turning off lights and not leaving the taps running may have failed to stoke the imagination in the past. Computer games, those pastimes addictive as sugar to children, and, in some people’s opinion, just as unhealthy in large doses, may yet hold the key to fostering a sustainable mind set in young people.


Examples can be seen in an iPad game released earlier this year called ‘Get Water’, raising awareness for World Water Day, and in the virtual world ‘Minimonos’, where a website greeted children with the slogan ‘Love to play, love the planet’ and encouraged them to create eco-projects before its closure this year (for its creators to concentrate on apps instead). By weaving relevant themes into enjoyable, engaging game formats, developers are giving children the opportunity to learn about the environment and modern challenges without realising that that is what they are doing – and that could make more of a difference than a daily lecture about turning off the lights.


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Post by Action 21 volunteer blog writer  Laura Parkes