Browse all articles

The Digital Citizenship Movement: The Next Big Legislative Trend?

We support Washington's actions and encourage other states to join the movement by expanding digital citizenship and media literacy training for all kids.

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, and 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 citizenship skills.

Kids have never had as much access to the internet and mobile technologies at home and school as they do today. While technology has great promise for learning, kids don't always make sound judgments when navigating the digital world. School administrators and educators are now faced with challenges, such as screen time, privacy, digital footprints, and cyberbullying.

Policymakers around the country are now seeking legislative solutions. Senator Marko Liias in Washington championed the nation's first comprehensive digital citizenship and media literacy legislation. The Washington state policy calls on the state office of the superintendent of public instruction to develop and distribute a list of digital citizenship and media literacy best practices and recommendations to school administrators. The legislation uses a state advisory committee that includes researchers, administrators, educators, and others to review digital citizenship and media literacy curriculum and policy. Governor Jay Inslee signed SB 6273 into law in March of 2016.

Other states are taking notice. Utah, Maine, and Indiana have adopted digital citizenship policies within existing state education programs. Since 2008, 49 states have adopted cyberbullying policies in an effort to limit the impact of online bullying activities in and out of an educational environment. But there is work that remains. Common Sense Kids Action believes in a comprehensive approach to digital citizenship and media literacy legislation that engages thought leaders in an effort to provide real legislative solutions. Common Sense will work with like-minded organizations, parents, educators, and researchers to influence legislation in 2017 that fosters collaboration on the best practices of implementing comprehensive digital citizenship and media literacy policies.

Common Sense has been a leading resource for 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.

Interested in learning more about our advocacy efforts around digital citizenship and media literacy? Join our efforts -- become a Kids Action Advocate today!

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.