We’ve been working with Famigo for several years to help low-income families prepare their children for success in school by leveraging technology and local resources. Since it’s Digital Learning Day, we asked their team to write this post about why this topic is so important.
Digital literacy is a foundational skill necessary to navigate the schoolroom, peer relationships, academic careers and every other aspect of 21st century life. Famigo and United Way for Greater Austin believe that ensuring that the families of central Texas are digitally literate is of the utmost importance.
What is Digital Literacy?
Digital literacy is more than just knowing how to download a book onto an e-reader or how to send a mass text message. In today’s society it means knowing how to responsibly use media in multiple forms to accomplish a task. It also means knowing how to avoid unwanted or inappropriate content.
Today, 79% of students are required to submit or access lessons online, and 29% of teachers report that they integrate social media into their coursework—a number that rises to 80% for college professors. These digital literacy statistics are reflected in later life as well. Today, 4 of the 7 fastest growing jobs directly require technology skills, and 80% of Fortune 500 companies only accept online applications. It is therefore extremely important that children learn from their earliest ages how to responsibly manipulate and use digital content.
of students are required to submit or access lessons online
of teachers (and 80% of college professors) integrate social media into homework
of children don’t have daily access to a mobile device
of low-income families don’t have high-speed Internet access
low-income families in Greater Austin learned to leverage technology for their young children thanks to UWATX, Famigo & our partners
Even though 75% of children have daily access to some type of mobile device, 25%–that’s 1 out of every 4 kids–do not. The majority of these children are from families considered “low income” (earning under $30,000 a year). Therefore, one of the challenges Famigo and United Way for Greater Austin has faced is how to leverage available resources so that low-income families do not get left behind.
The majority of these low-income children could fall into what is referred to as the “technology gap” or the “digital divide,” the gap that develops between groups regarding access to information and communication technology. Today, 54% of families considered low income do not have high-speed Internet access, and 80% of K-12 schools don’t have the resources to upgrade their Internet services, let alone adopt mobile technology. These students could easily be left behind as knowledge of how to use and manipulate digital tools continues to propel our society forward. And as more of our government services are delivered online, digital literacy is a necessary skill set to be a participant in the democratic process.
What we did
With similar goals in mind, Famigo and United Way for Greater Austin have worked extremely hard to make Play To Learn, a Success By 6 initiative, successful. Through our separate areas of expertise, we have been able to connect children and parents to devices and educational content in a variety of settings. The program specifically targets the low-income population, ensuring that more children have equal access to educational content that will make learning a dynamic and whole-family activity. It similarly ensures that the most vulnerable children are given an equal shot at a successful future.
What YOU can do
An important part of any solution is parents themselves. Parents wield a lot of power in introducing their children to technology in safe and educational ways. Famigo knows that the best way to learn is through experience, and only by offering a protected path for those experiences can children fully become responsibly digitally literate.
Therefore, we offer 3 suggestions to parents as they work toward introducing their children to technology:
- Develop a family media agreement
- Monitor your child’s usage, but encourage them to explore and experiment
- Play educational apps within the Famigo app, as well as stream educational video content from trusted sources your kids already love, including PBS Kids, Disney Jr., Nick Jr., Ready Rosie, and even your local library.
A child’s home is their first school—learning doesn’t end with the school bell. Digital literacy is the way of the future, and it’s important that children know how to use a variety of technologies.
If you have a unique idea for promoting digital literacy in your home, or have an example of how it was important for you in your schooling or job to be digitally literate, write back to us—we’d love to hear it!