Common Sense Media Announces Digital Literacy and Citizenship Initiative

Initiative includes public education and policy campaign, as well as a pioneering digital citizenship curriculum for grades 5-8 currently piloting in San Francisco and Omaha, Neb. schools; Additional key school districts signed on for fall 2010
For immediate release
Thursday, April 1, 2010

San Francisco, CA – Common Sense Media announced today a comprehensive digital literacy and citizenship initiative that aims to provide educators, parents, and kids with the tools necessary to raise a generation of responsible, smart, and safe digital citizens. The initiative has three key components: a school-based curriculum for grades 5-8; a public awareness and education campaign, which includes PSAs and other outreach with partners; and an aggressive public policy strategy designed to bring funding to digital literacy, teacher training, curriculum development and distribution to schools nationwide. Each component of the plan is designed to educate, protect, and empower kids to make responsible, respectful, and safe choices in today’s digital world.

“Technology is already at the center of our kids’ lives – whether it’s for education, play, or socializing,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media. “As a nation, we all have a stake in how our kids grow, develop, and ultimately choose to lead in this digital world we all live in. We have a responsibility to educate kids to become smart digital citizens. Leaders in industry, education, government, and of course, parents must acknowledge the demand for education, and work together to find the resources to make it happen.”

The curriculum component, which launched as part of a pilot program in San Francisco and Omaha, Neb. schools and will roll out fully this fall, is designed for grades 5-8 and teaches kids to think critically and make informed choices about how they live and treat others in today’s digital media world. The curriculum covers everything from privacy and sexting to cyberbullying and self-expression, and uses both interactive lessons and real-life stories and examples from kids to get them engaged in the digital ethics discussion. The curriculum is based on the digital ethics research of Dr. Howard Gardner and the GoodPlay Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

School districts in New York City and Omaha, Neb. have officially signed on to launch the first phase of the curriculum in fall 2010. In addition, districts in Los Angeles, Denver, Washington D.C., and KIPP Houston, as well as the departments of education in the states of Florida, Virginia, and Maine have expressed interest in the digital citizenship curriculum and are also considering offering it to their schools once it has fully launched.

In addition to the launch of the digital citizenship curriculum for students, Common Sense Media’s Parent Media Education Program already provides educators and parents with hands-on guidance about the media and technology issues in their kids’ lives. The free program is currently used in more than 5,000 K-12 schools throughout the country and internationally.

Through partnerships with major industry players, the public education campaign, called “Rules of the Road for Digital Kids,” is designed to educate and engage both kids and parents in the topics of digital literacy and ethics. Television and online advertising, social networking applications, and educational and informational programming – directed at kids and their parents – will raise awareness of the need to create a positive experience for kids growing up in a too much, too soon culture. The campaign’s first official partner, The Disney Channel, ran a PSA featuring characters from “Phineas and Ferb,” along with an interactive quiz for both parents and kids on Internet safety and good digital behavior.

Common Sense Media is actively working with policymakers and thought leaders in government, education, and industry to develop digital literacy and citizenship programs for every child in America. Recommendations include: funding professional development for educators to improve their facility with technology and media; creating educational resources for teachers, parents, and kids; funding and delivering education technology resources in underserved schools and communities; a digital teacher corps; and making digital literacy and citizenship education an essential part of every school’s basic curriculum

Digital media and technology are evolving at a dizzying pace, bringing both extraordinary opportunities and risks for young people. Kids connect, create, and build community. But in a too much, too soon culture, they can also be exposed to content – and conduct – that can be negative or even dangerous. Common Sense Media’s goal is to educate and empower young people to harness the power of digital technology in positive ways.
For more information about Common Sense Education programs, visit   http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators.

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology. We exist because our kids are growing up in a culture that profoundly impacts their physical, social, and emotional well-being. We provide families with the advice and media reviews they need in order to make the best choices for their children. Through our education programs and policy efforts, Common Sense Media empowers parents, educators, and young people to become knowledgeable and responsible digital citizens. For more information, go to: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/.

Become a fan on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/commonsensemedia
Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/commonsensenews
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/CommonSenseMedia

Press Contacts:
Marlene Saritzky
Vice President of Communications, Common Sense Media
msaritzky@commonsensemedia.org
415-553-6768
415-713-1241 (cell)

Marisa Connolly
Communications Manager, Common Sense Media                
mconnolly@commonsensemedia.org               
415-553-6703
617-699-4235 (cell)