It is pretty clear that climate change is one of the most serious challenges facing humanity – both now and in the future. And there is no way of getting away from it.
The anxiety and urgency of the problem are rubbing off on young people, and they have many questions needing to be answered. Children are experiencing deep worries about the health and wellbeing of the planet – which is now known as eco-anxiety.
According to a survey performed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2020, 57% of child and adolescent psychiatrists stated that they are working with children and young people worried about the climate crisis and the environment.
It is now the responsibility of educators and society as a whole to ensure understanding of global warming is woven into national curriculums and is not just as a one-off lesson – it should be a core part of children’s school and home life.
Children need to understand what causes climate change and what can be done to tackle it – from reducing waste to being aware of renewable energy companies.
The challenge is how to begin to teach about climate change that is accurate, sensitive, and supportive to the learners. It is not healthy to cause children fear and anxiety. Instead, they should be made aware of environmental issues in an informative, fun, and positive way.
There are now many online resources that can help formal educators, family, and friends provide a great foundation for the teachings of climate change.
Online Climate Change Games
Online climate change games can be a great way for children to practice an interactive educational experience. Many internationally recognized organizations have developed games for children which help them to:
- Understand practices that create a sustainable system in the environment and communities;
- Determine the link between greenhouse gases and climate change;
- Learn the process of climate change through game analogies;
- Acquire skills for effective communication and collaboration for the common good and the environment;
- Explore practices that help create sustainable systems in the natural world and human society;
- Practice strategic and leadership skills with green methodologies at the forefront;
- Experience the reality of complex legislation;
- Align goals, negotiate, and coordinate actions.
Many of these games can be played either alone or in groups of friends. Playing in a group format allows children to discuss climate change and make collaborative decisions.
Together, they will learn about themes such as rising sea levels, greenhouse gasses, and their impact on the planet.
Through games, children can start to grasp what humans can do to address the problem in a positive learning environment.
This is not to say that online climate change games sugarcoat the message or dim down the seriousness of the problem.
On the contrary, they tackle some of the most frightening environmental issues facing the planet in an understandable and digestible way for young minds.
It is, however, recommended that games are thoroughly vetted before allowing children to play to ensure it is appropriate for their temperament.
Here are some examples of the high-quality online climate change games available for children:
The majority of games created by reputable developers will provide a complete synopsis of the topics covered within the game and give an advised age bracket for players.
Some games have been created for an older audience, so they may not be suitable for younger players. However, there are plenty of family-friendly options available online too.
Climate Change Apps
With many children now having mobile phones and tablets, the number of environmental apps has surged over recent years.
It is now possible for children to download apps onto their devices that are both fun and educational.
Here we will draw attention to a few examples of the most popular environment apps available:
The Lorax (iOS App Store/Google Play Store)
Developed by Oceanhouse Media, this app allows children to follow the Lorax as he speaks for the trees and shares an engaging story about the value of protecting trees and the natural environment.
It is a relatively simple app to understand and suitable for all ages – even adults that are fans of the classic Dr. Seuss books;
Eco Birds (iOS App Store)
This is a game where players tap to fly a bird trying to save the environment and stop climate change. Evil villains are cutting down trees, and the more trees the player replants, the higher the score;
Sustainability News (iOS App Store)
An app aimed at older students helps them understand environmental issues and provides them with a link to reliable sources for school projects.
The Sustainability News app has correlated over 100,000 environmentally focused websites and social media channels.
Digital Environmental Worksheets
There are some fantastic worksheets online for children who may not enjoy games and apps – or find them hard to navigate.
For example, the digital environmental worksheets include puzzles, brainteasers, coloring activities, and formal national curriculum resources.
Climate Change Makers empowers children to take a stand against climate change through their online resources and provides them with a voice to write why they think every child in the world should have the opportunity to learn about this issue.
The site includes videos, reading resources, a quiz to inspire children to be climate changemakers, and a climate message which can be published on the site.
The well-known WWF charity has also put together essential climate change resources for children aged 7 to 11.
However, they have also not forgotten about those responsible for teaching the children, so they have created a teacher guide to simple activity ideas based around the theme of climate change.
It is true that children are not too young to learn how important it is for them to do their part to aid in saving our planet.
There is no time like the present to learn more about how we can work together to tackle climate change positively – whatever our age.
However, educating children about the environment does not need to be all gloom and doom. We also need to help protect their mental health and try to reduce eco-anxiety.
Check out the many available online resources on how to get started.