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Digital Literacy, Citizenship and Internet Safety

Posted by Tony Linzmeier
Tony Linzmeier
Classroom Technology Coach
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on Thursday, August 08, 2013 in K-12 General Interest

Part I: Speaking the Language of Kids

I was recently approached by a principal to assemble training sessions for her staff on Digital Literacy, Citizenship and Internet Safety. This is such a broad topic which could take months to unpeel. In this series of blogs, I will introduce you to some ideas and resources on how to keep our children safe and help keep us aware of what they’re seeing out there.

As I begin this series of blogs, I can recommend the website commonsensemedia.org. This resource covers topics related to digital literacy, citizenship, Internet safety, and much, much more.  In my future posts I will be digging into the specifics of how this web site can be used to train faculty.  For this post I wanted to reflect briefly on one small component of this site that has become a go-to tool in my personal life when it comes to media and children.

But first, a brief background.

I am the father of two girls.  One five years old and one ten.  I refer to them as my “five and dime”. I am not a follower of current trends in television or movies.  So when my older daughter comes to me and asks whether or not she can watch a particular TV show or movie, I am challenged.  Most, if not all of the shows she has asked about are relatively new and therefore, I know nothing about. Not a clue. Nope, nada, zip, zilch. “Ant Farm”, never heard of it.  “Suite Life”, not a clue.  “Wizards of Waverly Place”, I got nothing.

Turning my daughter loose on something that I knew nothing about is something I do my best to prevent whenever possible. Eventually, the answer of “no” to my daughter, was followed up with the question of “why not?”.

“Because I said so” is not cutting it anymore with a 10 year old I had to find a way to educate myself on current media content.

Common Sense Media to the Rescue!

After bumbling around through Google trying to get info on specific shows, I thought to check to see “is there an app for that?”.  Lo and behold, there is.  Common Sense Media has an app called “Kids on Media”.  This app is available for iOS (Apple) and Android.

During my bumbling around through Google I had found a couple of websites that had addressed different components of what “Kids on Media” does in one package but none did it with the depth and thought that Common Sense Media does.

Search for a title of a TV show, movie, game, app, book or music.  The information that is given allows a parent to decide for themselves if the show is appropriate for their child or situation.    For the TV show reviews the components that are discussed are:

  • What parents need to know (brief summary info that is parental guidance specific)

  • What’s the story? (In depth information about the storyline)

  • Is it any good?  (Five star rating system with a few sentences of how/why it is rated the way it is.)

  • Ratings (Motion Picture rating scheme along with distribution info.)

  • Consistent Content Review (5 Point System - 0-5 where 5 = Best)

    • Positive Message

    • Violence

    • Sex

    • Explicit Language

    • Consumerism

    • Drinking, drugs & smoking

This last section (Consistent Content Review) particularly Positive Message and Consumerism were topics that I found very helpful.  The others were helpful but are pretty obvious.

I use this app constantly when reviewing things for my ten year old and will be using it for my 5 year old in a few years.

It provides me insight and information in a concise, efficient format that allows me to make informed decisions about what media my kids take in.

As a parent I find it very valuable.  It would be valuable for teachers too as it provides them the ability to quickly gather info on media that they may not be exposed to on a regular basis.

The interesting thing is that I was using “Kids on Media” 3 months before my co-worker had suggested the Common Sense Media K-12 curriculum to me.

With the background of having used Kids on Media, I had a strong suspicion that K-12 educator components would be of value.  Having looked deeper into it, Common Sense Media does the job very, very well.

In my next posting I will start breaking down the Common Sense Media Educator recommendations and content.


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