Common Sense Media says

Microsoft's youth programs offer vast tech opportunities.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The overall vibe is one of confidence in young people and their ability to achieve. 

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

Prizes in the form of software and links to Microsoft products are common and reasonably expected considering the platform. Access to a purchase of Microsoft student-version software is weighted equally with programs and opportunities.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Most related real-world activities such as contests and camps obviously require self-identification and the benefits and small risks that go with it for youth who are generally mature enough to become active participants in public life. Online classes such as DigiGirlz are open-access with no personalized accounts or tracking. Kodu Game Lab allows sign-in with a Microsoft or Facebook account and requires name, gender, profile picture, and email address.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that YouthSpark Hub is Microsoft's online portal for kids and teens interested in careers that include technology, from game designer to journalist. It contains links to free online classes, developer tools, competitions with significant prizes, and other opportunities that focus on technology with a subtle emphasis on social change. High school-age kids to young adults -- especially those looking to jump-start careers, businesses, and tech skills -- will find not-to-be-missed resources here.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • engineering

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • cultural understanding
  • global awareness

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • thinking critically

Creativity

  • combining knowledge
  • innovation
  • making new creations

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals
  • initiative
  • set objectives
  • work to achieve goals

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together
  • teamwork
  • group projects

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • using and applying technology

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The Windows-style interface can be a little confusing and clunky, but sharp photos, inspiring videos, and meaningful opportunities outweigh any design quibbles.

Learning Approach

Microsoft is using its vast resources to help kids and schools tackle tech literacy with things such as coding classes, contests, and clubs. 

Support

For kids with limited resources, living in remote locations, or lacking enthusiasm for traditional educational paths, these resources can be a huge, bright star of opportunity and transformation. All resources are in English.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Science

  • engineering

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • cultural understanding
  • global awareness

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • applying information
  • thinking critically

Creativity

  • combining knowledge
  • innovation
  • making new creations

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals
  • initiative
  • set objectives
  • work to achieve goals

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together
  • teamwork
  • group projects

Tech Skills

  • digital creation
  • using and applying technology

Kids can learn essential career skills such as software engineering, game development, network administration, and coding, plus life skills such as learning from experts, teamwork, and following your dreams. Its flashy presentation falls a bit flat in terms of functionality, but all is forgiven once you get past those initial layers. YouthSpark Hub points motivated kids, youth, and adults from around the globe to real-world tech literacy and development opportunities.

This Learning Rating review was written by Leslie Crenna

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

Kids say

What's it about?

Microsoft YOUTHSPARK HUB hooks kids up with various technology-centered youth programs and opportunities. On the main page, they'll scroll through bright panels with hip photos, infographics, videos, and a blog. You can search by the skill you'd like to gain (for example, "build an app" or "understand a database"), or you can "Find Your Passion" by checking out various occupations (doctor, nonprofit founder). There's also a list of meaty Microsoft-sponsored programs, such as the Imagine Cup, a tech competition, or DigiGirlz, aimed at high school girls who want to know more about careers in tech. Non-Microsoft offerings include MakeYourJob.org, a game-based entrepreneurship program with prizes and professional advisors.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

YouthSpark Hub gathers up Microsoft's extensive educational and social programs and puts them all in one place, where motivated kids, parents, and teachers can access them easily. Although the interface could be more streamlined (all the overlapping layers can be a bit bothersome), there's a straightforward and nearly complete list of the widely diverse offerings, including school-based digital literacy, Microsoft store mini-camps, research blogs, online classes, mentorships, competitions, free software downloads, certification resources, and video instruction. Whew! There are lots of points of entry depending on what your kids are looking for; they can search by age, personal goals (learn to code, run a business), activities (win prizes, get inspired), skills, or job titles. Although non-tech jobs such as doctor, fashion designer, teacher, and environmentalist are included, kids interested in becoming software engineers, game developers, entrepreneurs, or even nonprofit founders are more likely to find what they need here.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the balance between career goals and personal goals and how best to merge the two.

  • Talk to your kids about the role technology plays in their lives. Where would learning more help with future opportunities?

Website details

Genre:Educational
Pricing structure:Free, Free to Try, Paid

This review of YouthSpark Hub was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byKelsey rote August 27, 2014
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Girls and boys

I think it should help find a boyfriend or a girlfriend

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide