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How to Get Your School to Teach Digital Manners and Skills

Common Sense Media's ready-made resources help teachers -- and families -- nurture responsible digital citizens.

Topics: Life Skills

Today's kids are impressively tech-savvy. But the digital world -- just like the non-digital world -- requires all kinds of skills that kids don't simply pick up as they go. Digital citizenship and media literacy have to be taught and modeled by the adults in kids' lives. How do kids tell the difference between trustworthy and false information on the web? What should they do if they witness cyberbullying? How do they keep their personal information private online?

Every day in the classroom -- especially in schools with lots of technology -- teachers can help kids build these essential skills. But teachers are incredibly busy and often overwhelmed by all they're expected to accomplish each day. Though they may want to teach digital citizenship and media literacy, they may struggle to fit these lessons into an already packed agenda. Here are five ways that you, as a parent, can help start conversations about these important topics and introduce valuable resources to your school community.

Talk to your kid's teacher. Find out what your teacher is already doing to build these skills, and share a few of the high-quality resources Common Sense Education offers. Our K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum is a great place to start. And with ready-made lessons and engaging videos on a range of key topics, teachers can easily fit digital citizenship activities into their existing instruction.

Get to know the school librarian. The media center is often the hub for all digital citizenship and media-literacy lessons. Find out if the school librarian is addressing these topics regularly. Point out our fun interactive student games, Digital Passport and Digital Compass, which allow kids to explore and discuss the impact of their decisions in the digital world.

Share family resources with other parents. Raise awareness about balanced media use at home by sharing our K–12 Family Media Agreement and Device-Free Dinner initiative with other parents and caregivers in your school community. Your teacher can also help get parents on board with these strategies. As more families buy into digital citizenship, the easier it will be to convince the school to follow suit.

Engage your PTA. Spark a community conversation with Common Sense Media's Presentations for Parents and Families. These topic-focused slide presentations give PTA leaders or school staff members an easy way to address the most pressing parent concerns related to kids' digital lives. Families will get the latest research, expert advice, tips, and recommendations to help them face these challenges with confidence.

Connect with the principal. They may seem too busy, but school principals want to know more about your priorities for your kid's education. They're also always on the lookout for quality learning opportunities for their teachers. Share with your principal Common Sense Education's webinars, teaching videos, and digital citizenship training for ways to get teachers up to speed on teaching these essential skills.

Erin Wilkey Oh

As content director for family and community engagement at Common Sense, Erin provides parents and caregivers with practical tips and strategies for managing media and tech at home, and supports teachers in strengthening partnerships with families. Prior to her work with Common Sense, Erin taught public high school students and adult English learners in Kansas City. Her time as a National Writing Project teacher consultant nurtured her passion for student digital creation and media literacy. She has bachelor's degrees in English and secondary education and a master's degree in instructional design and technology. Erin loves to knit, read, hike, and bake. But who has time for hobbies with two young kids? In her free time these days, you'll find her hanging out at playgrounds, the zoo, and the beach with her family.