Other Choices: Mobilize.org, DoSomething.org, PeaceCorps.gov/kids
Synopsis: Engaging games give kids safe, smart civics lessons.
Common Sense Rates It:
Parents need to know
Parents need to know that iCivics is a safe, educational site designed to help kids learn (and teachers teach) about civics topics, including democracy, constitutional law, the branches of government, elections, and campaigns. Using engaging, interactive games and innovative educational materials, the site aims to prepare American kids to become knowledgeable, engaged citizens of the 21st century. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor founded iCivics in 2009 to reverse the nation's declining civic knowledge and participation and to foster an understanding and respect for the U.S.'s system of governance. Kids, parents, and teachers alike will find a wealth of useful and entertaining materials at their fingertips.
- Families can talk about the importance of understanding democracy and how our nation's government works.
- Talk about how the Internet is a valuable tool for helping with school subjects such as social studies and math.
- Talk about the importance of making smart decisions about technology even when it's being used to help with schoolwork and learning.
What's the story?
iCIVICS is essentially an engaging educational site cleverly disguised as a gaming spot, with innovative games, cute animated characters (Liberty Belle and Chuck Freepress), and a real-world reward component. The more games you play and the more "Impact points" you earn, the more impact kids can have on an actual community service project. Games focus on core civics concepts such as rights, the court system, governance, freedom of speech, and constitutional law. Each game is creatively executed and educates while it entertains. Instructions and information are clearly presented and easy for tweens and teens to comprehend. Kids can drop in to play or become members and create a safe account that enables them to save in-game progress, unlock special features, and compete with other members. Educators have access to free, standards-aligned civics curriculum and comprehensive teaching materials.
Is it any good?
Who says studying civics can't be fun? At iCivics, learning about government, citizenship, civil rights, politics, public policy, and The Constitution is exciting, entertaining, and engaging. Through interactive games ("Cast Your Vote," Immigration Nation," "Responsibility Launcher"), kids can get a grasp of often-complicated concepts and improve their understanding of civics curriculum. Educators of all levels can turn to these online tools to supplement their in-class teaching and turn kids on to some of the more staid civics lessons through gameplay. The language and look used throughout iCivics is geared to the computer-savvy student and it offers a fresh, fun-filled way to learn through play.
The Good Stuff
Messages: An active engagement in community and government is encouraged throughout. A spirit of citizenship and volunteerism is also fostered. "Impact points" earned by game play can be applied to real community service projects; at the end of three months, those projects with the most points are awarded a substantial prize.
What to watch out for
Violence Some silly cartoon antics appear on several games, including anvils that are tossed toward -- but never on -- animated characters.
Sex: Not an issue
Language: Not an issue
Consumerism: Not an issue
Drinking, drugs & smoking: Not an issue