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A Big Year for Digital Citizenship Legislation -- Did Your State Pass a Law?

Check out the latest list of states that passed model legislation that expands school and district access to digital citizenship and media-literacy resources.

Kids and teens today are using the immense power of digital media to explore, connect, create, and learn in ways never before imagined. With this power, young people have extraordinary opportunities, yet they face potential pitfalls, too. Meanwhile, schools are dealing with the associated ramifications, such as cyberbullying, digital cheating, and safety and security concerns. These issues underscore the need for students to learn -- and for teachers to teach -- digital literacy and digital citizenship skills.

Earlier this year, Common Sense Kids Action began working with a national coalition of like-minded organizations in an effort to pass modeled legislation that would expand school and district access to digital citizenship and media-literacy resources. States took notice. Policymakers from Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island have introduced legislation that would expand access to digital citizenship and media-literacy resources. National press outlets like PBS NewsHour have reported on our efforts, and leading nonpartisan, legislative tracking groups such as the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) released a Legis Brief (Vol. 25, No. 07) discussing the legislative trend and successful strategies that have been identified within states across the country.

The model legislation calls for the creation of a state-based advisory committee composed of educators, administrators, researchers, and parents who will work under the oversight of the state education agency. The advisory committee will develop best practices, resources, and models for instruction in digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy. The committee will also develop strategies that support school districts in local implementation of the best practices and recommendations developed, including strategies for delivering professional development to educators and administrators. Our legislation also calls for the mandate that districts must annually review their policies and procedures on digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy.

Four states have adopted this approach: Connecticut, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Common Sense Kids Action has been a leading resource for policymakers, school administrators, educators, and parents interested in learning additional ways to help kids thrive in a world driven by media and technology. We believe good online behavior mimics good offline behavior and that there is no differentiating between the two when it comes to safety, responsibility, and respect.

JR Starrett
JR oversees Let's Invest Large in Youth (LILY), a multi state program for Common Sense Kids Action. In this capacity JR works with a team of internal and external stakeholders to identify and introduce state based legislation that will positively impact kids. Prior to joining Common Sense, JR served as a seasoned political operative managing campaign efforts for some of the nation’s most competitive races. JR was recognized as a Rising Star by Campaigns and Elections magazine in 2014. He currently lives in San Francisco with his wife Morgan. JR is a frequent contributor to Campaigns and Elections Magazine, contributing to the Campaign Insider column.