Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Demand for Lessons in Cyber Civics Goes Global

Students in Ghana, Africa, To Benefit From U.S.-Based Digital Citizenship and Literacy Program

Cyber Civics™, the innovative middle school digital citizenship and literacy program currently being taught at schools in 20 U.S. states, just added students in Ghana, Africa, to its growing list of young people who are learning how to become thoughtful, ethical, and competent digital citizens.

Awo Aidam Amenyah, Executive Director of the J Initiative (JI), an organization that seeks to improve the lives of youth through education in Africa, says she found Cyber Civics while searching for a program to "inform children and young people about what impact their online actions can have on themselves and others, both online and offline, in order for them to get the most out of technology." With the help of a donation from Millicom Foundation, JI was able to enroll for the Cyber Civics program that will benefit children and families throughout the African country of Ghana. 

Students in 20 U.S. states already participate in this three year, in-school program comprised of weekly lessons in Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy, and Media Literacy for Positive Participation. Founded at a public charter Waldorf school (Journey School) in Aliso Viejo, CA, in 2010, Cyber Civics was designed to meet the urgent and growing need to equip students with digital life skills. The program includes lessons on how to use the Internet safely and responsibly, how to search effectively, avoid plagiarism, understand copyright, critically evaluate media messages, plus lessons on the productive and positive use of media tools. 

Available to all schools and organizations at www.cybercivics.com, the Cyber Civics program has spread quickly, due in part to recent legislation calling for lessons in media literacy and digital citizenship. 

"The need for these kind of lessons has gone global," says Cyber Civic's Founder Diana Graber, "there are no international borders online." Liz Repking who represents Cyber Civics in the Central and Eastern regions of the U.S. concurs, "All kids need to learn safe and appropriate digital behavior, and how to develop the critical and ethical thinking skills that are applicable to all areas of their lives."

At a recent forum on "Internet Rights for Women and Children in Ghana," Amenyah said that her country "does not have a clear provisions focusing on the protection of children online, no legislation that criminalizes online grooming or cyberbullying." There is also no legislation criminalizing access or visualization of child pornography, which are among the critical challenges confronting children who use the Internet.

Amenyah is counting on lessons in Cyber Civics to help her and her team meet these global challenges.

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