Jill Helser, Virtual Programming Specialist
Navigating the digital “world” is challenging for everyone. It’s easy to get lost in the web of information and quickly find yourself spiraling into Alice’s rabbit hole of information far from where you began! But, like Alice in Wonderland, sometimes that adventure is exciting; you may meet new people and discover silly situations, and other times it can be dark and scary.
“The level of technology, and the access to it, is so different for this generation than it was even 20 years ago,” says Dr. Bastiani Archibald. “Many parents and grandparents might feel out of their comfort zone when it comes to encouraging digital leadership in their girls, but the great news is that no one has to be a tech genius to raise one.” (Source: Raise Her to be a Digital Leader (Even if You Aren’t Tech-Savvy; GSUSA Website)
Understanding the many machinations of algorithms, data collection, and risks of sharing images and personal information can be overwhelming. The consequences our younger users face fall on their supervising adults to help guide them through the nuances of the world-wide-web. The accessible and instant information available to us is too enticing and convenient not to engage. Further, we are continually directed to the internet by our communities.
So here we are, all a part of the world-wide-web, where we are continuously shaping a virtual version of ourselves. We are always learning how to present ourselves to our communities. Whether we intended that outcome or not, we all are in the vast chasm of cyberspace.
As we continue to acclimate to our digital environments, we learn that our values, safety, and reputations are like the ones we strive to present to the real world. We work to help our children learn to be safe and responsible and, most of all, to help them understand they have agency over their journey, whether digital or real life.
As Girl Scouts, we endeavor to help others in their journey. We look out for our well-being and work to keep our friends safe and aware of our surroundings. For young learners, it’s not always easy to keep our peers safe along their life paths. Still, a core value of Girl Scouts is to make the world a better place, which means moving beyond ourselves and considering the impact on those in our communities, whether digital or real life.
Being a Digital Leader means helping users remember they have control over their virtual environments and helping them to feel empowered, confident, and self-assured as they engage on digital platforms. We have “agency” over how much or little we want to share, engage, remark, report, or guide those around us.
Our Digital Leadership Fun Patch session introduces Girl Scouts to digital environments with a fresh eye. Girl Scouts can help each other navigate the digital world and consider how they might handle situations they may face. In our sessions, we compare how similar online interaction is to real life. It is, after all, real life! But with a filter that changes the physical encounter leaving out the subtleties that are a part of the in-person engagement.
We are again offering Digital Leadership Fun Patch sessions for our Daisies, Brownies, and Junior Girl Scouts this March. Each session is designed to introduce and prepare Girl Scouts for life with our digital technologies and provide them with the tools that encourage them—with your help—to build the courage, confidence, and character to engage safely in our virtual environments!