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General Assembly discussing bill to educate kids on social media

ROANOKE,Va. – Alex and Amanda Doyle know their newborn son John will grow up in a world full of social media
and protecting him from online dangers starts early.

“I know I want to be able to have strict rules for screen time and enforce family time,” said Amanda Doyle. “Also if we are able to stay on top of it and learn about it before the kids surpass us we should be in good shape.”

They support the idea of a council to help keep their children safe. The House of Delegates Education subcommittee voted to advance House Bill 199. This would create a council regarding digital citizenship, internet safety and media literacy.

The goal would be to help educate children about the world of social media where many will encounter in school.

Nancy Hans is the executive director for the prevention and safety of students of Roanoke County. She says this council will offer resources and teach parents to navigate through this time of child development.

“This is about teaching our youth about digital citizenship and its about the road they are on,” said  Hans. “When kids get on phones and iPads, this becomes a digital highway that doesn’t have a seat belt.” Hans says the Facebook children’s messenger app is just the latest device that adds a dangerous factor to children and this can stunt their development growth. 

Facebook contends the app has parental controls that will let moms and dads approve who their kids becomes friends with and what kind of content they are posting.

Alex Doyle says that if implemented correctly, the Council for Digital Citizenship could work, if not it will fall on deaf ears.

“Especially for parents and adults who don’t know social media that well, it  will help  keep an eye for warning signs of cyberbullying,” said Alex Doyle.