DELAWARE — In an increasingly digital world, many young people can struggle to tell the difference between news, opinion and advertisements. “I think we have an image of young people as digital natives who seamlessly navigate the internet with an ability that eludes many of us as adults. But the reality is that the data is clear: young still struggle to navigate the internet, and that includes identifying misinformation,” said State Senator Sarah McBride.
That’s why Senator McBride hopes to pass the Digital Citizenship Education Act, or Senate Bill 195. This would require Delaware to implement media literacy requirements in K-12 education. “That means making sure young people have essential 21st century tools to identify misinformation, to understand the difference between ads and news, between hard news and editorials,” said Senator McBride.
The legislation would also create a framework for students to learn how to navigate the internet safely. “This is an essential tool for young people, as they engage in the online world at such a young age. We want to make sure they do it in a way that’s healthy for them, healthy for others, and we also want to make sure they don’t do anything that might come back to haunt them later,” Senator McBride said. “Our online behavior has a significant impact on our health and, frankly, on our long-term opportunities. Very often we see young people over-sharing online, doing things that they might regret 10, 15, 20 years later.
The bill has already passed the Delaware Senate, and now it’s heading to the House for a vote. Senator McBride says she is confident the bill will eventually become law because it has the support of the Delaware Department of Education. “I think all of us, no matter what party affiliation, where we live, no matter how old we are, we can all come together around the simple fact that in an increasingly digital world, we need to make sure that everyone, and especially young people, know how to navigate safely,” she said.