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‘No app for empathy’: Provincial workshop teaching digital manners heads to Richmond

This week, Richmond parents will have the opportunity to learn how to teach their children about using technology appropriately and safely at a digital literacy workshop.

The Raising Digitally Responsible Learners workshop, taking place on April 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Ferris Elementary, is part of a series of workshops sponsored by the provincial government to help students navigate the digital world.

“Parents certainly do have that responsibility to provide guidance and support and restrictions to their kids’ digital and social media lives. It can’t just be enough to give them a new digital device and say ‘good luck, don’t mess up,’” Sam Jingfors, vice-president of Safer Schools Together, the organization running these workshops, told the Richmond New.

“As a society, we’re connected in ways that we’ve never been before and what that means is we have our children accessing and utilizing technology at a younger and younger age.”

For those with kids under the age of 14, Jingfors said it’s important for parents to know how to protect their children in the online world, particularly teaching them how to understand privacy. For those over the age of 14, Jingfors said it becomes more important to teach students how to digitally brand themselves, understanding that what they post reflects who they are.

“They need to be cognisant that this is becoming the new standard for moving forward in life. Your digital footprint is a representation of who you are in the real world,” Jingfors said.

“You want to make sure you’re representing yourself in a way that you’re proud of.”

The province-wide workshops, which are expected to take place in every school district, were announced following February’s Pink Shirt Day, a day that aims to support anti-bullying programs. This year’s focus for the nation-wide event was cyberbullying.

“Parents play an important role in the safety and upbringing of their children both with respect to on and offline behaviours,” said Carol Todd, mother and founder of the Amanda Todd Legacy Society in a press release.

“Parents have a need to become better informed on how their children are using technology and, more importantly, how to support them in conversations related to social media and cyberbullying.”

Jingfors said parents attending the workshop can expect an honest dialogue on how students are using social media – both for good and bad.

“The goal of the session is to empower parents to not be afraid of technology but to embrace it within their own household and to understand that their role as parents is now more important than ever,” Jingfors said.

“There is no app for empathy or website for compassion, those are still family values.”