Victoria – Over the next two months, nearly 4,000 youth in government care will receive an iPhone to help keep them connected to friends and family, and provide better access to online services, resources and opportunities.
“Youth in care told us they don’t always have access to the essential technology they need to stay connected to school and key people in their lives, like friends, family members or mentors,” said Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. “Access to a phone can support youth in building their self-esteem and sense of belonging, and help them to maintain important hereditary and cultural connections, as well as enhance their safety, so they can call for immediate assistance if they ever need it. As we continue to slowly emerge from the pandemic, having a phone can help to alleviate the feelings of loneliness and isolation for young people.”
The ministry’s Phones4Youth program, the first project of its kind in B.C., is beginning to distribute smartphones from Telus to every B.C. youth in care aged 13 or older, regardless of their care status.
The initial rollout will take place over the next two months and the program will be ongoing, with additional smartphones being provided when any youth in care – or under an agreement with the ministry – reaches the age of eligibility. Youth will receive an Apple iPhone with voice and five gigabytes of data, along with a phone case, screen protector and charger. Government will cover all costs.
Telus Wise, a free digital literacy program, will help educate youth, social workers, caregivers and care providers in the use of technology that balances the benefits and the risks that digital technologies and social media can present. Clear guidelines and ongoing support will be available so youth can be supported to learn to manage their smartphone in a responsible and safe way.
* As of August 2021, B.C. had 5,163 children and youth in government care, the lowest number in 30 years.
Telus Wise: https://www.telus.com/en/wise