A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Webonauts Internet Academy is a sweet-hearted, creative, and colorful story game that teaches kids good Internet behavior. Through decision points in the story kids will learn about "Netiquette," Internet safety concerns, good vs bad information sources, and so on. While it's not necessary to have a PBSKids.org account in order to play, you will need to register if you want to be able to save your game. Registration is free, but the game doesn't take all that long to finish, so those reluctant to register might be willing to give the game a try without saving.
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What's it about?
When you join the Webonauts Internet Academy, you enter an elite interstellar outfit tasked with keeping peace among the planets, which is accomplished by offering wise advice to troubled aliens. But the Webonauts Academy is really a metaphor for the Internet, and all the events in the story represent different potentially problematic situations kids may encounter online. The plot revolves around a villain, Static, who exhibits consistently bad Internet behavior and generally causes trouble. He spreads rumors, steals passwords, and even co-opts other people's intellectual property (in this case, a cookie recipe). The player must navigate each of these tricky situations through dialogue choices.
Is it any good?
Webonauts Internet Academy is a marvelous little allegory. There are some great Web-safety and Netiquette lessons here, all cleverly disguised as plot points in a cutesy science-fiction story. If anything, parents may need to connect the dots for younger kids, explaining to them exactly how the situations in the story relate to real issues that can be encountered on the Web. Some lessons, like never giving out your password and not making profiles public, are simple to see, but a few are more abstract. Overall, though, there are some really great and important lessons to be learned here. And the story is fun. There's a nice bit of customization available, too, as kids can change their costumes and helmets as often as they want. The game is a relatively short one, but that's all the better for players who don't want to have to register on the site just so they can save their games.
Online interaction: The game is only available on the PBSKids.org website. By registering for a free account on the site, you can save your game (otherwise, you'd have to play through the whole story in one sitting). The PBSKids.org site is a generally fun, safe, and educational Web environment.
Talk to your kids about ...
What lessons does the game teach you about staying safe during your Internet use? How can you apply these lessons to your web-surfing outside of the game?
Static, the villain of the game, plays the part of an Internet troll -- exhibiting awful Internet behavior. Have you ever encountered a person who behaved badly on the Internet in real life? How did you deal with this person? What does the game teach you about dealing with bad-mannered Internet trolls.
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Skills: Tech Skills: evaluating media messages
Responsibility & Ethics: following codes of conduct, making wise decisions, respect for others
Thinking & Reasoning: decision-making, thinking critically
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: PBS Kids Go
- Release date: September 25, 2010
- Genre: Educational
- ESRB rating: NR for (Not Applicable)
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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