Vodafone aims to bridge pupil and parent digital divide

Vodafone and The Parent Zone hope their 'My Tech Family' initiative will bridge the digital divide between schoolchildren and their parents

The Vodafone Foundation has launched an initiative to bridge the digital divide between pupils studying the new computing curriculum and their parents.

Vodafone unveiled the "My Tech Family" programme in partnership with The Parent Zone. It aims to reach 17,000 primary schools across the UK.

Vodafone and The Parent Zone designed the programme to help children encourage family members to take part in digital learning through quizzes and further resources, fostering safely online.

My Tech Family is available to all primary schools, downloadable for free. Resources include a digital style quiz, presentations, lesson plans and a workbook. Activities include making movies and building games together.

Ed Vaizey, digital economy minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "I am pleased to see that Vodafone and The Parent Zone are continuing their great work to help schools and families keep children safe online.

“The 'My Tech Family' initiative not only helps to close the generational digital divide that exists in many families, it can also be a valuable tool in promoting online safety. I hope it will be a tremendous success." 

Bringing families together

Emer Boulter, head of sustainability at Vodafone UK said: “When children are growing up in a world where people spend more time on digital activities than they do sleeping, we want technology to enhance the time families spend together. 

"With today’s emphasis in the new school curriculum for children to acquire skills that prepare them for life in a digital world, 'My Tech Family' supports families in developing the right skills, beyond the classroom.

“Crossing the digital divide is more than just teaching coding in schools, but needs to tackle the growing gap between the digital engagement of children and their parents. By encouraging families to share their online experiences, we hope to create opportunities for families to discuss what children do online, to help them to find safe things to do online, and to build digitally confident families.” 

A recent survey from Vodafone, conducted by The Parent Zone, found a third of parents wish they had more experience in using technology to play a part in their child’s education.

How children shared technology with their families in the 'My Tech Family' initiative

  • A child showed her grandparents how to watch a live feed from CCTV cameras on the family farm to watch cows being milked;
  • A child taught her aunt, who lives some distance from the family, how to use the FaceTime video app;
  • A child downloaded a recipe with his mother and cooked it with her.

Technology exacerbates generation gap

Some 63% of the 1,000 parents questioned agreed that technology is changing at such a pace that it is widening the generation gap.

The survey revealed that more children are spending more time using technology on their own – but only a fifth of parents share something on a digital device with their child once a week.

Pilots were carried out in  four schools across the UK between December 2014 and January 2015. These included schools from north and south London and schools from rural Wiltshire and the town of Rugby.

Kevin Sandall, ICT teacher at one of the pilot schools, St Katherine’s Junior School near Marlborough, said: "For so long the internet message to parents has been: ‘Don’t use it! Keep your kids away from this, it’s dangerous!’ But what can you do? It’s there in children’s lives and it’s enriching. It was really refreshing to have something that embraced the internet in a positive way."

Digital parenting

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of The Parent Zone, said: “From the work we’ve already done with Vodafone and schools on digital parenting, we know that schools are crying out for more support to help them deliver the skills in the new computing curriculum.

“Engaging parents and families in the computing curriculum is essential to helping schools share the opportunities of a digital age while delivering real safety benefits. We already know that hundreds of schools are interested in the My Tech Family programme this year.”

Andrew Dunnett, group director sustainability and foundation said: “This is a great extension to our already successful and long-running programme for parents and schools, which will see 1.2 million of our annual Digital Parenting magazines released to schools and other public bodies during this school year.

“As part of our 'Mobile for Good' programme, we’re delighted to be partnering with The Parent Zone on this next phase, which we hope will continue to help children thrive in today’s increasingly digital times.”

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