Improving digital literacy, wisely

Later this morning we will see the launch of the TELUS WISE initiative today, a program available to Canadians free of charge to help advance “Wise Internet and Smartphone Education”.

TELUS WISE will offer seminars and online resources that will help keep all members of Canadian families safer online. It is not just an online resource; TELUS WISE ambassadors will come out to any local community group to conduct in-person seminars on Internet and smartphone safety – a workplace, community centre, school, parenting group or senior’s centre, for example. Individuals can also book a one-on-one session with trained staff at more than 200 TELUS stores. Educational materials will also be available on a secure portal, available to anyone who wants to educate themselves on the safe use of smartphones, tablets and computers.

It is a two tiered program, both of which are free, with TELUS WISE, targeting education for adults and TELUS WISE Footprint, aimed at kids aged 8-18. The TELUS WISE Footprint program is a secure online portal, offering interactive challenges for kids to learn how to stay safe online. There are comic-strip scenarios, identifying common mistakes children often make online with key topics like cyberbullying and predators. School-age children can earn money for their school’s cyberbullying and digital citizenship programs by completing interactive challenges.

Over the past 11 years, has received over 94,000 reports from the public, which have led to over 125 known arrests, and more than 62 children removed from abusive environments. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research has some interesting and disturbing statistics on cyberbullying in Canada. Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth.

Jane Tallim, co-executive director of said “Our belief is that children and youth need critical thinking skills to engage with media as active and informed digital citizens.”

I applaud the private sector leadership in developing and promoting this national digital literacy and cyber-safety program. It is the first of its kind in Canada. The TELUS WISE program promises to not only assists parents in the education of their children of any age, but it also wants to help start a dialogue with aging parents about identity theft and how to stay protected against scam artists and other exploiters.

It is great to see TELUS working to improve Canada’s digital literacy, so wisely.

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