The My Tech Family hub is your window into a world of fun tech activities that your whole household can enjoy. Here we find out why using technology together is so important...

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Have you checked out the My Tech Family hub yet? Whether you’re the son or daughter of a parent who needs a bit of tech teaching, a parent who wants to spend more time enjoying technology with your kids, or a teacher who wants to help make those connections, there’s loads to get stuck into.

My Tech Family is a joint project between Vodafone and our longstanding collaborator The Parent Zone, and it’s the first of its kind. To get the inside story, we’ve been speaking to The Parent Zone’s CEO Vicki Shotbolt. Read on to find out how it could make a big difference in your home, school, or even your whole town…

‘Nobody has tried to do this before’

vicki shotbolt“Vodafone and The Parent Zone wanted to build on Vodafone’s great Digital Parenting magazine and create a project that was positive about technology,” says Vicki of the project’s beginnings, “but one that gave an opportunity to get whole families involved and enjoying it together safely. From that initial discussion, we arrived at My Tech Family.” And those discussions and plans came alongside some pretty interesting research:

“The research that we did for Vodafone shows that there is a real digital divide between generations,” Vicki explains. To put it simply, that digital divide means that kids in the UK are racing ahead of their parents when it comes to learning and using new technology and services.

“That may not be new news – we all know that kids and parents use technology differently – but we’re certainly now more aware that helping parents to understand what their kids are doing online, and vice versa, is really important. It genuinely needs to be a two-way, sharing exercise.”

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While that may seem like a straightforward tact, Vicki reveals that this is new ground in the world of online education, as previous efforts have traditionally targeted either the kids or the grownups, and kept each camp separate:

“Nobody has tried to do this before,” she tells us. “This is a first – I can’t think of another online project that actually encourages whole families to learn together. And with this we’ve already had parents, grandparents, kids and siblings all enjoying technology together and finding out what each other does online. It can almost be uncomfortable for adults to engage with every new thing that comes along, so the easiest way to do it is simply to keep talking to each other, and keep finding out what kids are enjoying and using.”

The secret to the programme’s success in the trial stages? Making it fun for all ages:

“Everybody prefers to enjoy something that they’re doing, and with kids especially it’s easier to teach if they’re enjoying the experience of learning. So the more we can make it a positive, fun experience, the better.

Tech in every classroom

To help make My Tech Family a nationwide success, we’ve made a big selection of resources for teachers available on the hub, including lesson plans and homework activities. The idea is to get kids thinking about tech in new ways, and bringing that enthusiasm home and into their communities:

“The aim is to get as many of the 17,000 primary schools in the country signed up as we can,” says Vicki. “We’re hoping to see lots of examples of families sharing technology together. We’ve already got some great examples and we’re hoping to get many more – our measure of success will be those stories that we get from schools. We want to see that families are learning new things about each other, and enjoying new ways to use tech together.”

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Luckily, we’ve got evidence to suggest that we’re on the right track. Before launch, My Tech Family’s materials were trialled in several schools around the country, and to great effect:

“We’ve had incredibly positive feedback,” Vicki says. “We’ve had one school that’s made a little film showing how the whole class has got their family involved in the project, for instance. And when you reach a class of 30, you’re really reaching a community of hundreds. And that’s really exciting. We’ve had everything from a child who’s set up an iPad for their grandma so that she can watch the cows being milked on the family farm, to cooking stories where kids have shared online recipes with their parents and then learned about cooking through that, all the way through to a parent who realised that their child was playing a lot of age-inappropriate games. There’s a large span of fun and useful stories.”

 

my_tech_family_thumbMy Tech Family: Take the quiz!
Head over to our hub for a fully-stocked list of great online activities and tech guides for the whole family. Why not take the Digital Learning Styles quiz with your kids to kick things off?
Click here to get going!

 

We’ll be bringing you the inside view from a teacher who’s successfully employed the My Tech Family resources in their school really soon, but between now and then, there’s plenty for kids and parents to get stuck into. And with so much to do, read and watch, we wanted to ask Vicki what her one top tip is to family’s logging on for the first time:

“My advice for parents would be to do the digital learning styles quiz,” she says, “and do it with your child, because you’ll find out what sort of learning style they prefer. From there you can start to try new things together, and learn why you have such an avid gamer, or why certain members of the family gravitates towards certain things.”

Get started… You can find the My Tech Family Hub right here, or click here to start the digital learning styles quiz. Any questions about online resources or online safety? Fire away in the comments section below!