(BPT) - While the majority of American students have returned to in-person learning, the shift to a more virtual way of life in schooling has changed for the foreseeable future with the increasing use and acceptance of virtual programming. More than ever, American adults, teens and kids alike are increasingly reliant on the internet and digital resources. Furthermore, the demand for quality online programming for youth has skyrocketed while internet and Wi-Fi access continues to be a challenge in underserved communities.
The shift from predominately in-person to a mix of virtual experiences has left some kids and teens struggling to access connections online, engage with their passions and discover new skills. Plus, many students are experiencing the “homework gap,” which is when kids lack a consistent home internet connection that is needed to finish schoolwork after school hours.
In fact, one-quarter of Black teens said they were at least sometimes unable to complete their homework due to a lack of digital access, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
As Club youth continue to report challenges with virtual programming and connectivity, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Comcast NBCUniversal have combined forces to deliver solutions and increase connectivity for kids and teens through MyFuture, a self-directed, digital platform that meets kids where they are in their digital lives and teaches a range of skills, from the most basic to the most advanced. Accessible inside and outside of Boys & Girls Clubs, the platform offers a robust curriculum that includes hundreds of activities in areas such as STEM, leadership, and the arts.
“MyFuture helped spark my interest in STEM,” shared Boys & Girls Clubs of Westminster Teen Club Member Tyler O. “Participating in the coding, robotics and game design programs gave me the tech know-how to succeed in extracurricular STEM activities. Now, I hope to pursue a career in aerospace engineering.”
As we continue to navigate the ever-evolving world of technology and incorporate it further into our lifestyles, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, an expert in youth development, offers these insights for ensuring kids and teens have access to engaging virtual programs and experiences that help them stay academically on-track and enhance their overall growth.
Gain access to online learning
Boys & Girls Clubs and Comcast NBCUniversal are on a mission to address digital inequity. Comcast NBCUniversal is making sure youth across the country have free access to internet for academics and programming through Lift Zones – WiFi-connected areas in community centers and in more than 4,700 Boys & Girls Clubs, that help students get online and access the resources they need while participating in virtual learning.
Prioritize online safety and mental health
With a prevalence of social media use among kids and teens, the risk of cyberbullying can be worrisome to parents and dangerous for mental health. In the last year, more than one in six high school students reported being cyberbullied, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Finding virtual programs where kids and teens are in a safe zone, free of cyberbullying, have proven successful to increasing confidence and developing healthy habits.
Parents can help their kids discover what’s out in the world virtually that they perhaps haven’t already found when they have easy access to quality programming. With free online resources, kids can uncover hundreds of program activities designed to build foundational technology skills to media making, coding and music.