The IUP Criminology Graduate Student Organization will host more than 60 Indiana area parents and children for the first Digital Families Community Workshop on April 5 at 6:00 p.m. in the Humanities and Social Sciences building, room 225.

The workshop is sponsored by the East Pike Horace Mann Parent Teacher Association.

Five IUP criminology doctoral students will present three separate sessions during the workshop. Sessions are designed to educate and engage families on topics that include digital wellness, security, access, equity, and literacy. The program also focuses on password strategies, privacy, and family technology.

The workshops are funded by a $1,000 grant from the National PTA. Only 200 PTAs in the country and only six in Pennsylvania were part of the initial wave of grants distributed to host the Digital Families Community Event with Facebook.

Kammi Cooper, president of the East Pike Horace Mann PTA, applied for the grant during a Pennsylvania PTA convention in October.

“It is a great program to bring to our community; it's so timely and important for families,” Cooper said.

The event in Indiana is unique in that it is using graduate students to deliver the content to parents and children.

“In my opinion, education and community-outreach are two important and essential components of higher education,” Samantha Bennett, a third-year criminology doctoral student, said. Bennett, of Indiana, is vice president of the Criminology Graduate Student Organization at IUP.

“The availability and access to social media and technology in today's digital world has significantly impacted young students; the way we learn, communicate, and stay informed is largely reliant on the use of digital media. That's why this workshop is so beneficial for both students and their families to learn safe and positive internet practices,” Bennett said.

In addition to the workshops, Indiana families will be treated to music from a newly formed fifth grade string quartet as they enter the Humanities and Social Sciences building on campus at IUP.

Cooper said the fifth graders, all from Horace Mann Elementary School, “are very excited and nervous to perform in their first public event. They have prepared three or four songs and have been practicing as a group for several months.”

The National PTA is collaborating with Symantec, Facebook, Google, and AT&T to provide the funding to mobilize PTAs, to have a collective impact in schools and communities, and to engage families around best practices, shared learning, and creating dialogue.