Kid Tested, Teacher Approved: My Digital Life Works
On Monday, I had the privilege of helping about 70 middle school students celebrate their completion of the My Digital Life program.
I, along with Alexandria County Public Schools Superintendent Morton Sherman and EverFi CEO Tom Davidson, visited Francis C. Hammond Middle School in Alexandria, Va., to give the students their certificates of completion and hear them share what they learned from this digital literacy program. Neustar makes the program – which teaches kids about technology and digital citizenship, and encourages them to consider a career in technology – available to every middle school in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We also make it available to every middle school in Kentucky and California (two other states where Neustar has offices).
While some of the adults present, including me, spoke about the program – so did a lot of the kids. And I am not embarrassed to admit that the kids were the far more compelling speakers. They made it quite clear that they not only enjoyed the program, but that they also learned the lessons it was designed to teach. All of the adults squirmed in their seats just a bit when one student described the program as “much better than school.” But we also sat up a little straighter when one student after another explained clearly how the program had taught them how to handle cyber-bullying, how to intelligently choose the right kind of technology to purchase, or how to use social media in a responsible way. Given how mature and sophisticated they all sounded, it was stunningly easy to forget that we were all listening to kids that were only in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades.
I focused on the part of the program that encourages the students to pursue a career in technology – pointing out that if they studied science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) they could end up playing an instrumental role in developing the next blockbuster video game, breakout mobile app, or super-fast computer. Neustar has invested in My Digital Life because we hope to spark both a lifelong interest in technology and a clear understanding about how to use technology responsibly. I came away from the ceremony knowing Neustar had made a worthy investment.
U.S. Congressman James Moran (D-VA), whose district includes Alexandria, congratulated the students for participating in the program. A member of his staff, a graduate of Hammond Middle School, also spoke and helped hand out certificates to the students.
“The Internet is an integral part of life for today’s younger generation — students use the web for everything: communicating with friends, doing their homework and applying for college,” Rep. Moran said in a statement. “Neustar’s My Digital Life program not only gives students a foundation for digital literacy, it teaches them at a young age how to use these resources wisely and responsibly.”
Morton Sherman, Alexandria County Public Schools Superintendent, summed up how we all feel about this program when he told the students: “You understand digital citizenship and digital literacy and the importance of respecting one another online. Obviously, this program works.”
I could not have said it any better myself.