Del. lawmakers hoping to boost student media literacy with new legislation
DELAWARE – In an increasingly digital world, many young people can find it hard to tell the difference between hard news, opinion, and advertisements. “I think we have an image of young people as digital natives who seamlessly navigate the internet with a capacity that eludes many of us as adults. But, the reality is, the data is clear: young people still struggle navigating the internet, and that includes identifying misinformation,” said State Senator Sarah McBride.
That’s why Sen. McBride is hoping to pass the Digital Citizenship Education Act, or Senate Bill 195. It would require Delaware to implement media literacy requirements in k-12 education. “That means ensuring that young people have critical 21st century tools to identify misinformation, to understand the difference between ads and news, between hard news and editorials,” said Sen. McBride.
The legislation would also create a framework for students to learn how to safely navigate the internet. “This is a critical tool for young people to have because they are engaging in the online world as such a young age. We want to make sure that they’re doing it in a way that’s healthy for them, healthy for others, and also is ensuring that they aren’t doing anything that could come back to haunt them later on,” said Sen. McBride. “Our behavior online has a significant impact on our health, and frankly, our long term opportunities. So often, we see young people oversharing online, doing things they may regret 10, 15, 20 years down the road.”
The bill has already passed Delaware’s Senate, and now it heads to the House for a vote. Sen. McBride says she’s confident the bill will ultimately become law, as it has the Delaware Department of Education’s support behind it. “I think all of us, no matter our party affiliation, no matter where we live, no matter our age, we can all come together around the simple fact that in an increasingly digital world, we need to make sure that all people, and particularly young people, know how to navigate it safely,” she said.