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Murray Journal

Viewmont Elementary empowers students to be "digitally responsible"

Mar 27, 2019 03:25PM ● By Julie Slama

Viewmont Elementary students are excited to “power up” April 1-5 and will use the $500 White Ribbon Week grant’s program to learn digital citizenship. (Jamie Cheney/Viewmont Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Viewmont PTA volunteer Kelly Taeoalii saw a White Ribbon Week $500 grant posted on Facebook. After thinking that it looked easy enough to apply and knowing it would benefit the school, she filled out the information for the digital citizenship grant in late January.

“I learned within that week that we were awarded the grant and two weeks later, I got all the materials – facilitator guide, simple stories, everything we need,” she said. “It’s a powerful, but simple program.”

Viewmont will use the “I’ve Got the Power” program during its White Ribbon Week April 1-5. 

The program helps kids take charge of what they view and share online, Taeoalii said.

“There are five-minute lessons based on five principles and a statement to begin each day. It’s not a program that says ‘don’t do this,’ but rather ‘I’ve got the power to be smart and be responsible,’” she said.

The student-empowerment program begins each day with a power boost or a positive principle of online behavior, such as “I have the power to not view embarrassing pictures or share hurtful words” and “I have the power to tell a trusted adult if something doesn’t feel right.”

Then, each day, there is a short program that centers around that theme. There are opportunities to have discussions on the topic and related lunchtime activities. 

Students and families are given tips how to be digitally safe, which Taeoalii plans to share through the ParentSquare notification system.

“Being digitally responsible is such an important thing. Next year, our school, K-6 (kindergarten through sixth grade), will be one to one (ratio) with devices. We use tablets and computers so much in school and at home, but we also need to give our students the tools they need to be digitally responsible citizens,” she said.

In years past, Taeoalii said the school would combine Ribbon weeks. So one day, it would be dedicated to drug and alcohol prevention and education and another day might be dedicated to pedestrian and bike safety, but with the help of the grant this year, funded by the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, the effort can be concentrated on internet safety for the entire week.

“Our students have access to the whole word, but what are we doing to train and prepare them?” she asked. “This program will help make parents more aware and give our kids the opportunities to learn good choices with technology.”