Students Would Learn About Digital Citizenship, How to Spot Fake News Under Senator Jackson's Bill

March 10, 2017

SACRAMENTO – Concerned about the recent proliferation of fake news during the Presidential election, and a lack of civility that has pervaded discussions online, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) has introduced legislation to ensure that students in California’s public schools learn how to read media sources critically, and act ethically, responsibly, and safely online.

Senate Bill 203 creates a process for students, parents, teachers, school administrators, and others to establish strategies for ensuring that digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy became part of the state’s basic educational goals and learning requirements.

Just like adults, today’s students have more access to social media, the internet, and mobile technologies at home and in school than any prior generation. While technology holds great promise for enhancing how children learn, given the anonymity that allows people to act irresponsibly without consequence, young people need support and education on how to make sound judgments when navigating their digital world, particularly when it comes to cyberbullying, sexting, privacy, digital footprints, and fake news. 

“This legislation is about ensuring we have an informed citizenry,” said Jackson. “The role of the media and technology is only growing. The skills we teach kids today about critical thinking, the role of media in their lives and how best to interact with social media, fake news and technology will help keep them safe and serve them into adulthood.”

This bill establishes a state-based advisory committee comprised of educators, administrators, researchers, and parents who will work under the oversight of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop best practices, resources, and models for instruction.  Among other things, this advisory group will help develop strategies for school districts to implement this instruction, including professional development and training for educators and administrators.  

Starting in 2019, this bill will also direct school districts to annually review their policies on digital citizenship, internet safety, and media literacy, in light of district resources and with feedback from the community.