Using tech to engage with the environment

Gaming and tech expert, Andy Robertson, discusses how parents can help get their children engaged with the environment by using different games and apps.

Help children discover the environment with devices

Andy Robertson

Freelance Family Technology Expert
Expert Website

How can parents and carers use tech to support or encourage children’s interests in climate change and the environment?

One thing that immediately gets children’s attention is video games. While these are often just about entertainment, there are some amazing games that deeply engage play with the environment.

Of course, finding the right games is the challenge here. Minecraft is the game we all know about and does have some light touch environmental themes. However, games like Terra Nil, Eco and Flower take that interaction in more engaging directions.

How can tech help children and young people express their interest in environmental issues?

Of course, video game interactions only get you so far. The real test of whether an activity has engaged someone with something is whether they want to look into it further once it has finished. A nice way to do this in the family is to find games that also take you outside to engage with the world around you.

Again, we all know about Pokemon Go, but that doesn’t really have an environmental angle. Games like Deep Time Walk and Run an Empire use your landscape and walks in the countryside as an integral element of the experience.

What can families do to get involved in important issues using online communities or tech?

A really good next step for this kind of engagement is to find online forums and groups that play these games. They not only help you play but also discuss how well the game engages with the issues. There are also some really interesting books that talk about video games from an environmental angle. Alenda Chang’s Playing Nature is a great example and inspired this list of ecological gaming activities for families.