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CyberCivics workshop coming to Charleston


On Friday, Sept. 6, author Diana Graber will visit Charleston to introduce her new book, “Raising Humans in a Digital World, Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology,” and elaborate on ways youths and adults alike can better navigate their way through the current digital age.

Graber is the founder of and, organizations designed to help adults and students learn digital citizenship and literacy skills. She also serves as adjunct professor of Media Psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology and teaches middle school Cyber Civics classes at Journey School in Southern California.

“This program, CyberCivics, started at a school in Southern California about 10 years ago,” Graber said in a telephone interview from her California headquarters last week, “to address issues children have with these powerful, electronic devices. Sometimes, they sometimes don’t know how to use them wisely. We saw this at the school and had super good luck with the course. Other schools heard about it and contacted us, and now it’s being taught in schools in 43 states.”

Graber said the Sept. 6 program will be her second in West Virginia. “I did one about three years ago,” she said. “It was really fun.”

A morning session, from 8 to 10:30 a.m., will be open to the public. In the afternoon, Graber will provide insights and education in her Cyber Civics curriculum for teams of two from area middle schools interested in participating.

Middle school representatives can be teachers, counselors, assistant principals, principals or other administrators. The Adolescent Health Initiative for Boone, Clay, Kanawha and Putnam counties will provide the curriculum the schools will need.

The workshop will be held in Parlor D of the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center on Sept. 6. Its primary objectives are:

• An overview of the digital media challenges young people face today.

• An introduction to the current research on the effects of technology on the developing brain.

• An understanding of the benefits digital media offers for young people, and tools to help youth capitalize on those benefits.

• A broad understanding of “digital literacy” and how to teach it to students.

• Actionable strategies to implement digital citizenship, information literacy and media literacy lessons in the classroom.

More information about Graber’s strategies can be found at

Through the workshop, attendees should gain a better understanding of the challenges digital media presents to youth, acquire tools to help youth, and capitalize on the benefits digital media offers. Middle school representatives will receive take-home lessons and strategies to share with their students.

“What’s so nice about the workshop is, it’s one thing to read about this curriculum,” Graber said, “and another to come and experience it. It includes role playing and sample scenarios, as well as discussion. Adults can get together, and they realize how complex the digital world can be for children. It gives them ways of how to guide children through these lessons so they’re smarter and better online.”

Graber said the morning session for the public will present all of the topics she writes about in her books.

The agenda is as follows:

• 8 a.m.: Registration

• 8:30 a.m.: Welcome/introductions

• 8:45 a.m.: “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology” book presentation

• 10:15 a.m.: Question and answer session

• 10:30 a.m.: Break

• 10:45 a.m.: Icebreaker Lesson: The first hands-on lesson of the day will challenge attendees to test their “De-Tech-Tive” skills as they learn how technology changes society, for better and for worse.

• 11:15 a.m.: “Digital Citizenship: Safe and Responsible Use of Digital Tools.” Attendees will learn how an education in digital citizenship prepares young people to use technology safely and wisely. Topics discussed will include: Citizenship for the 21st Century, Online Reputation Management, Ethical Thinking in Digital Spaces, Cyberbulying and Digital Drama, Hate Speech, Online Privacy and Identity Formation.

• Noon: “Digital Background Check” Lesson. Attendees will participate in lessons that teach young people how and why to be careful about what they post online.

• 12:30 p.m.: Working lunch

• 12:45 p.m.: “Information Literacy: How to Find, Retrieve, Analyze and Use Online Information.” By participating in a collaborative activity, attendees will discover why it is important for students to know how to use the internet safely for study and research.

• 1:15 p.m.: “Media Literacy for Positive Participation.” Attendees will discover how honing media literacy skills can help young people protect themselves from the downsides of tech use, such as sexting, gender bias, media misrepresentations, “fake” news and more.

• 1:30 p.m.: “Stereotypes in Media” Lesson. This lesson emphasizes teaching students how to identify online stereotypes when they see them and keep from being profiled themselves.

• 2 p.m.: “Sexting” Lesson. According to Graber, 28% of high school students report having sent a naked picture of themselves through text or email, and 57% have been asked to send a “sext.” By participating in this lesson, attendees will learn how to educate students about the consequences of “sexting.”

• 2:30 p.m.: Questions and evaluations.

Middle school participants who attend the workshop and are willing to complete additional related assignments can choose to take a graduate class from Concord University for three credit hours. The cost of the graduate class is $99. To register or learn more, contact Selina Vickers at 1-681-207-7110, ext. 1120, or Other CEUs will be offered as well.

“Three years ago, I had the opportunity to be in a workshop on CyberCivics with the creator of the curriculum, Diana Graber,” Margo Exline Friend, director of the Adolescent Health Initiative Region III of the United Way of Central West Virginia, said. “For the first time in 30 years of working with youth, I saw the biggest opportunity to help teens grow in a healthy and affirming manner and learn about relationships curriculum and activities for families and teachers that would help youth, and some parents, keep from getting in trouble online.

“It is not a ‘just say no’ approach,” Friend said, “but it gives information on how to use the digital world in a positive way or, as Dr. Michele Borba writes in Diana’s book introduction, ‘Your time and attention, along with what you will learn in this book, are the secret ingredients to raising humans in our digital world.’

“I have met very few parents who think they know all about computers, Facebook and finding the dark side of the internet. Many do not have the slightest idea of how to use a smart phone, iPad, etc. All they may know about Twitter is what the news says about the president and his tweets. CyberCivics helps everyone to feel a bit more confident in using the internet, cell phones, tablets and other skills.”

Metro reporter Clint Thomas can be reached at or by calling 304-348-1232.

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