The Phoenix Flyer

Should Florida students learn ‘social media literacy’ in school? Some lawmakers think so

By: - November 29, 2021 7:16 pm

In this photo illustration, social media apps are seen on a mobile phone. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Snapchat are used by children and teens across the world, and some Florida lawmakers want to make sure that students are educated on the risks and benefits of using those platforms.

That’s why in the 2022 legislative session, the Florida Legislature will consider a bill that calls for required instruction of “social media literacy.”

The bill defines “social media” as a “form of interactive electronic communication through an Internet website or application by which a user creates a service-specific identifying user profile to connect with other users of the Internet website or application for the purpose of communicating and sharing information, ideas, news, stories, opinions, images, and other content.”

If the legislation is approved by the Legislature and the governor, social media literacy would be added to other required instruction under Florida law, such as history of African Americans and the history of the Holocaust.

In addition, school boards would create instructional material to be available online and notify parents of the material’s availability.

The House version of the bill is co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough, who represents part of Duval County, and Democrat Rep. Fentrice Driskell, who represents part of Hillsborough County.

The Senate version of the bill is sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess, who represents parts of Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk counties, and will be discussed during a Senate Education meeting Tuesday.

Staff analysis of the legislation notes that social media plays an integral role in today’s culture, especially among teens, and that “requiring instruction on social media literacy could provide students with a better understanding of the benefits and risks of communicating and sharing information on social media platforms. ”

Some of those benefits include connecting with friends, meeting new friends through shared interests, and sharing art work or music, according to bill analysis.

Drawbacks to social media include instances of cyberbullying, privacy concerns including data collection of teen users, and exposure to dangerous people.

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Danielle J. Brown
Danielle J. Brown

Danielle J. Brown is a 2018 graduate of Florida State University. She has served as an editorial intern for International Program’s annual magazine and Rowland Publishing. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and reviews community theater productions for the Tallahassee Democrat.