In this information landscape that’s ever-changing—and often full of illusions—educators like Cyberwise’s co-founder Diana Graber are needed more than ever. Graber, who teaches kids Cyber Civics, went the extra mile to bring parents into this educational fold through her website, Cyberwise, an online safety, digitial citizenship and literacy info resource. She followed this up through her book, Raising Humans in a Digital World.
Concerned about the lack of online literacy, Graber tackled the issue by earning a master’s degree in a new field: Media Psychology and Social Change. Armed with skills both practical and academic, Graber began educating on these topics in earnest. Her first move: informing kids through Cyber Civics courses.
Cyberwise’s Diana Graber’s Odyssey
When Graber first enrolled her daughter in a charter Waldorf school in California, kids and the internet weren’t an issue; the school had a no-technology policy. But what happens in school, and what encroaches at home and in the outside world, proved no match for Waldorf’s wishful thinking. The kids were experiencing online bullying and more.
The school administration knew it had to address the issue. Enter Graber and Cyber Civics. The course, now running for 10 years and currently in schools in 44 states, educates kids on the pitfalls— and advantages—of the online world.
Cyber Civics, which runs for three years, from grades 6-8, touches upon issues like reputation damage, but also counters it by pointing out that a carefully crafted online image can garner better college admissions chances. “The more they learn, honestly, the more pissed off they get, because they feel like they’re being duped and used. And kids do not like to be manipulated by adults,” Graber says.
The Kids Are Alright, But What About the Parents?
The next step for Graber, educating parents. Graber has a website and organization, CyberWise, which offers different tiers of help for parents. Her book, Raising Humans in a Digital World, was written to instill online literacy goal for parents.
“The goal with the book was to educate parents so they’d know what their kids should be learning,” Graber explains. Content includes using “digital on-ramps” with younger kids to introduce them to the technology in a family setting. It also teaches the same critical lessons their kids might learn in Cyber Civics, so the family is all operating on the same level.
Graber observes it’s the overall information parents need to know, not necessarily the online specifics. “What I always tell parents is you really don’t have to know about the latest app. It’s more important you understand the behaviors on the apps, because the apps will come and go. Every week, there’s going to be something new. That’s a never-ending challenge.”