Hate groups frequently use video games to recruit members, but they have also become a prime space to harass children. “If you are not one of them, you are an enemy, and they enjoy trying to make people miserable” Mr. Potok said.A 2020 Anti-Defamation League survey found that 68 percent of online gamers experienced severe harassment. Fifty-three percent of respondents said they were harassed based on “race/ethnicity, religion, ability status, gender or sexual orientation”; and 51 percent received threats of violence.
Mr. Potok said that online abuse is a problem all children can experience, but marginalized groups are at particular risk.Lydia Elle, an African American business owner and writer in California, said her 11-year-old daughter began playing the online game Roblox during the pandemic to connect with school friends. Her daughter put an avatar of an African American girl on her profile and was quickly targeted, her mother said. “Virulent racists quickly honed in on her and called her horrible names,” Ms. Elle said.Some platforms report they are taking steps to address extremism, such as using artificial intelligence to detect offensive content and increasing moderation, but many users say it has taken far too long for tech companies to address the harassment, and that it has not declined.
Representatives for Discord and Roblox each said that their platforms have zero tolerance for hate speech and “violent extremism.”Discord uses “a mix of proactive and reactive tools to keep activity that violates our policies off the service,” the company said in a statement. These include automated search tools like PhotoDNA and ways for users to report violations. Roblox reported that it uses a “combination of machine learning and a team of over 3,000” people to detect inappropriate content.
Lori Getz, an internet safety expert and the author of “The Tech Savvy User’s Guide to the Digital World,” said that caregivers can’t control everything children are exposed to, but parents can empower children to handle difficult situations online. Here’s how:
Talk with children in age-appropriate ways about hate — including overt and covert signs, such as words, symbols and images — and trusting their instincts if something doesn’t seem right. “If caregivers don’t talk with their children about these things, someone else will, and it may not be a credible source,” Ms. Guy said.TERC has made a great call, putting this classic game into the hands to today’s students.? It is exactly the direction education seems to be moving:? interactive, technology-integrative, logic-based, thoughtful action and reflection.? Zoombinis is sure to once again capture the hearts and minds of a new generation of students, from elementary to high school.? Its adaptability and versatility as a teaching tool allows students to activate multiple 21st century skills while still accessing state standards and expectations.? We’re looking forward to seeing more of these sorts of academically-aligned strategy-based games released for the classroom, as we move confidently toward the future of educational best practices.
To download the app for iOS or Android, CLICK HERE.TERC has supplied teachers with accompanying educational materials for the game HERE.? But if you have any new thoughts or creative ideas on how to best integrate the Zoombinis into the classroom, share them in the comments below!
Review by Keith Lambert, Education World Contributor.Lambert is a certified English Language Arts teacher and teacher trainer in Connecticut.