New report shows how digital skills training makes a big difference to parents/carers and their ability to support their children. More than 600 parents and carers have received training through the of Family Fund Digital Skills Programme and a recent evaluation found that before training, only 16% of parent/carers said they knew how to set parental controls on their device and just 28% felt confident about staying safe online. After training, these figures rose to over 90% and 70% respectively.
Similarly, when asked if they were confident in using their device, 86% of people who had received the training said they were, compared with just 46% before training. Real life impacts of these results have been seen, with some parents and carers reporting an increase in communication between them and their child.
“We use the tablet for communication, for YouTube and for information. Since the training, we are trying to use the iPad to further my autistic son's communication. I feel more confident - I learned a couple of new features which are useful to use and learned about apps which might help us.”
The bespoke programme tailors to the individual’s needs, skill level and the device they have. One to one training sessions in people’s homes take place as well as group training sessions all delivered by qualified and experienced trainers.
One parent said, “[The trainer] trained us on exactly what we needed to know at a pace that I was able to understand and was patient and very knowledgeable. I felt I have gained more confidence and understanding of how well I can use the iPad to help with my child's needs.”
Training covers topics such as learning to use apps for scheduling appointments, setting up parental controls, general internet usage, social channels, sharing photos or video calling friends and family. The learner needs no prior experience as the trainer goes at the right pace for the individual and home-based support works well for families that can often find themselves excluded.
Once parent/carers understand how to apply these features and controls, they can support their child with their specific needs. They can engage more with their child’s schoolwork and have a greater awareness of their child’s online life, staying safe online. Being online themselves opens up their own inclusion and opportunities by accessing websites and social networks.
Jenny Laycock, Programme Support Manager at Family Fund said: “Digital technology is a big part of life and can be a life changer for those with additional needs. Without the knowledge or skills to use these devices, families can find themselves excluded and in isolation from the wider community. By providing parents and carers of disabled children with these basic digital skills, we can start them on their journey into making their lives a little bit easier, opening up opportunities for them and their family.
“We know from the parents themselves the huge impact that iPad technology can have with communication, education, social interaction, motor skills and much more. This is the just the start of their journey and Family Fund is delighted to provide that first step.
“By working closely with our partners, Family Fund hopes to continue this skills training for the foreseeable future, ensuring even more families with disabled children and young people benefit across the UK.”