Photo credit: Habitat Heroes
Junior tree-huggers have a new tool in their planet-saving arsenal: Habitat Heroes, the first global social-networking Web site that brings eco-savvy kids together so they can share their ideas on protecting the environment, while learning about the issues at stake through interactive games and tools.
Launching in time for Earth Day on April 22, Habitat Heroes is the brainchild of Sharon Lowe, an Australian mother of three who hit upon the idea after observing her daughter playing games online.
"The core of Habitat Heroes was formed around values my husband and I wish to instill in our children," Loewe, who developed the site with the help of environmental experts, notes in a press release. "Treating other living creatures, and our planet, with respect is of the utmost importance to us. Since computers are part of our children's lives beginning at such a young age, I wanted to create an online destination where children could learn about these fundamentally important issues through things they enjoy, such as games and activities."
On the site, kids can adopt an animal from an endangered species, play games, learn fun facts about the environment, and communicate with other young eco-warriors. They can select and personalize animal avatars—which are limited per species to the actual number of animals left in the real world—to represent them on the site, as well as decorate the habitat where their avatars live.
For animal avatars looking to socialize or share their ideas for fighting climate change, the "Watering Hole" is where the action's at. Parents who are leery of online chats can rest easy; safety features have been built into the site and online conversations are monitored. Still worried? You can also limit the use of this function or any other feature on the site.
One tack that helps kids focus on the importance of giving back to the planet is "creature cash," a form of currency Habitat Heroes uses that can be spent at food, clothing, and other shops on the site. Because "creature cash" can only be earned after they complete environmental challenges, the kids learn that they can only indulge in the fun of say, feeding their avatar sushi or dressing it in new clothes, after they give Mother Nature a much-needed assist.
More online games about the environment
The Garbage Game
Bacteria Salad: A Game About Agribusiness
NEC Creates Online Game to Make Monitoring Power Consumption Fun
Consumer Consequences: American Public Media's Online Eco-Game
Electrocity: Teaching Kids to Manage Energy, Human Needs Responsibly Through Gaming