Should social media safety be taught in Florida public schools?

Here at WPTV we celebrate National News Literacy Week. It’s a movement to crack down on misinformation across all platforms.

A big part of that is social media, and WPTV takes a closer look at how we can ensure our kids navigate it safely.

Many of us have had to grapple with using social media safely and effectively as we grow up. But it’s a reality for today’s kids, and a Palm Beach County teacher said we’d better move with the times.

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“The power they have now didn’t exist. And that comes with great responsibility and great consequences at the same time,” said Karen Epstein, a teacher at Wellington Landings Middle School.

Epstein has watched the evolution of the internet throughout her teaching career. How to use it properly, she reinforces with her television productions, audiovisual arts and theater students.

“If the kids aren’t trained on how to use the tool properly, it can do harm,” Epstein said.

Epstein supports the idea of ​​social media safety woven into the curriculum.

“Ultimately, this goes beyond politics. It’s about our society. It’s about our children. It’s about protecting them,” said State Senator Danny Burgess, R-Zephryhills.

Burgess has introduced legislation to demand that social media safety be taught in schools. He wants the Florida Department of Education to work out the details, post the details online, and possibly add the lessons to an already existing course.

RELATED: Florida lawmakers are trying to mandate social media safety education in public schools

“It’s really hard when you’re young to understand the reverberations and implications of things you do while you’re young and how they might affect your later life,” Burgess said.

“We monitor our boundaries, but we don’t overstep them because we know that might push them in the opposite direction,” said Scott Borden, a Palm Beach County parent. “But we have our eye on anything that can raise an eyebrow.”

Borden, a father of 12- and 13-year-old daughters, said his children’s safety online is always a concern to him.

“The only question I have is are our state government and school boards qualified to determine what is safe and what is not?” Borden said.

Epstein said the more resources students, teachers and parents have at their disposal, the better.

“Watch what you say. ‘Is it good, is it nice, is it honest?’ is really the mantra to follow. And that’s a great responsibility for an 11, 12, 13-plus-year-old,” Epstein said.

Burgess also introduced the Social Media Safety Act last year but failed after its first committee.

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