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10 Ways Digital Literacy Curriculum Supports Student Mental Health

Throughout my career as a mental health professional, I have noticed the influence of social media and technology become ever-present in the lives of the students in therapy. It became quite evident that there was a disconnect between how parents and students viewed technology and social media. Parents were far more likely to view new technologies and social media in a negative light. In contrast, their children would often view the same tech and media positively and as a way to connect with their ever-growing digital world.

In an era where technology permeates nearly every aspect of daily life, digital literacy has become an essential skill set for students to navigate the complexities of the modern world. Beyond the practical aspects of using digital tools, a comprehensive digital literacy curriculum can also play a significant role in supporting student mental health and bridging the gap between online safety and the vast opportunities of the online world.

Children's Mental Health

Here are 10 ways in which such a curriculum can contribute to the well-being of students:

  • Empowering Critical Thinking: Digital literacy education encourages students to question and evaluate the information they encounter online. By developing critical thinking skills, students become better equipped to discern credible sources from misinformation or harmful content, reducing anxiety stemming from confusion or manipulation.

  • Promoting Online Safety: Learning about internet safety protocols and privacy protection strategies instills a sense of confidence and security in students as they navigate online spaces. Feeling safe and secure online can alleviate stress and anxiety related to cyberbullying, identity theft, or online harassment.

  • Fostering Self-Regulation: Digital literacy curriculum often includes lessons on managing screen time and balancing online activities with offline pursuits. Teaching students to regulate their technology use can prevent feelings of overwhelm or addiction, promoting healthier habits and better overall mental well-being.

  • Encouraging Digital Citizenship: By emphasizing responsible and ethical behavior online, digital literacy education cultivates a sense of belonging and community among students. Feeling like an active participant in digital society can boost self-esteem and reduce feelings of isolation or exclusion.

  • Addressing Cyberbullying: Digital literacy curriculum typically addresses topics such as cyberbullying awareness and prevention strategies. Equipping students with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to cyberbullying incidents can mitigate the emotional impact and provide a sense of agency in challenging situations.

Kid on Computer

  • Enhancing Media Literacy: Teaching students to critically analyze media messages and representations helps them develop a healthier relationship with digital media. By understanding how media influences perceptions and emotions, students can better navigate media-related stressors and develop resilience to negative media influences.

  • Supporting Emotional Expression: Some digital literacy programs incorporate activities that encourage students to express themselves creatively through digital media. Engaging in digital storytelling or multimedia projects provides an outlet for self-expression, fostering emotional well-being and self-awareness.

  • Building Digital Resilience: Digital literacy education equips students with the skills to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing digital landscape. Teaching resilience in the face of challenges such as cyber threats or information overload empowers students to overcome setbacks and maintain a positive outlook on their digital experiences.

  • Cultivating Empathy and Understanding: Learning about the diverse perspectives and experiences of others online promotes empathy and understanding among students. Developing empathy can strengthen interpersonal relationships and contribute to a more supportive and inclusive online environment, reducing feelings of loneliness or alienation.

  • Connecting with Support Resources: Digital literacy curriculum often includes information on accessing mental health support services and resources online. Educating students about available support networks and encouraging help-seeking behavior can reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and provide students with the assistance they need to thrive academically and personally.

A well-designed digital literacy curriculum goes beyond teaching technical skills; it serves as a vital tool for promoting student mental health and well-being in the digital age. One such example is Cyber Civics!

The Cyber Civics curriculum helps not only empower students to be ethical digital citizens but also assists students by establishing connections through technology that goes beyond screens and reminds students that people on the other side of the screen have feelings and emotions too. No matter which side of the screen they are on, they are human too! 

By empowering students with knowledge, skills, and support networks, educators can play a crucial role in fostering a generation of digitally literate and emotionally resilient individuals.

About The Author:

Connor joined the Cyber Civics team in 2023 with experience in both social work and marketing. In 2020 he earned his LMSW in Texas where he worked as a therapist in a private practice. He made the switch from direct practice to marketing and worked with therapists to help market the profession and practice. Connor now works for Cyber Civics and Cyberwise. After earning his Bachelors's in English, Political Science, and Counseling from the University of North Texas, he went on to receive his Masters's in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington. Continuing his studies, he earned a certificate in Digital Marketing from the University of Texas in 2022.


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