Dauphin County school district to address ‘digital literacy’ in ongoing parent forums

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HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – School officials in a Dauphin County township are planning a series of forums starting next week and extending into the next school year to teach parents what their kids already know.

The focus, the Derry Township School District says, is digital literacy — what kids are doing online and how to minimize the danger.

In a classroom at Hershey Elementary School Tuesday, young students’ familiarity with newer technology was apparent. They used iPads to research the eating habits of various aquatic animals for group projects.

The teacher supervised as they searched online for information. It’s becoming the new normal in school and out.

“They definitely feel as though technology is a huge part of their life,” Alicia Schulz said of her four kids, ages 7 to 14.

iPads, computers, phones — it’s a lot to keep track of.

“Here these children have grown up with technology and I didn’t,” she said. “I’m still feeling like I have a lot to learn.”

“This is a digital generation of students,” district spokesman Dan Tredinnick said.

Schulz is planning to take part in a forum, meeting for the first time next week, about digital literacy. The school district designed it to help parents like her wade into the digital waters confidently and proactively.

“One of the things we’ll be doing at this first meeting is really just talking about what is a digital footprint,” Tredinnick said, “how do students get a digital footprint.”

The first one will be small, only a couple dozen district parents and guardians, but it’ll help administrators determine what they need to address in bigger future forums next school year.

“What to do if someone’s cyber-bullying, how to keep private information private,” Tredinnick speculated.

“Some days, it’s exhausting to constantly be looking over their shoulder,” Schulz said. She wants to keep up with her kids’ tech habits and be able to find the balance between their freedom and their safety.

“This is part of their life and I want them to be able to navigate it with confidence, but also with my assistance so that they’re safe.”

For now, the meetings will be open only to parents and guardians within the district, but Tredinnick said as they grow they might include neighboring districts and communities.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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