In-game bullying identified as a problem for teens

MOBILE THREAT: Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson says phone misuse remains a problem for teens' mental health.
MOBILE THREAT: Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson says phone misuse remains a problem for teens' mental health.

A VIDEO game targeted at teens is hoped to boost digital intelligence and online safety skills.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner launched The Lost Summer, aimed at young people aged 11 to 14 years old and designed to be played in the classroom. 

With the increased use of online gaming by young people, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said it was important young people were armed with important skills to cope online.

“We’ve created a gamified experience that is engaging and will resonate with young people as they learn the importance of digital intelligence,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the increasing popularity of online gaming has also given rise to some negative experiences for young people, particularly in-game bullying.”

In the game, students need to adopt critical thinking about information presented to them, empathy for others, resilience and maturity, respect and responsibility to complete challenges.

Central West social media sociologist Peter Sutton said using a video game to educate young people about cyber safety was a clever medium to use to get the message across.

"This is where kids live and breathe a lot of their lives, whether we like it or not," he said. 

Mr Sutton felt there were three important things young people needed to understand about using social media and other online platforms, the first being privacy was no longer a guarantee.

"A lot of things that came as a given before the advent of social media, we really need to understand that we have to work hard to have them today," he said. 

He said young people also needed to understand the technology they used and know their personal values. 

Mr Sutton said the video game would be good for schools to incorporate in their curriculum. 

Lifeline Central West executive director Alex Ferguson said social media and mobile phone use remained the key problems.

“The misuse of mobile phones across a range of subjects is particularly dangerous, especially when explicit data and photographs are uploaded," he said. 

“Anything that’s well thought out by the experts would have to be a good thing.”

However, he said parental responsibility remained key to setting a standard for their children.”

The Lost Summer can be downloaded free from the App Store, Google Play or for desktop at


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