Empowering the Next Generation With Digital Literacy: A Chat with Miss Nevada 2023
A few years ago we received a phone call from Taylor Blatchford. She is a passionate advocate of online safety who wrote this blog post for us a few years back. Needless to say, we were immediately taken with Taylor’s enthusiasm and passion for online safety and digital literacy education. Since that first call, Taylor has been sharing our digital literacy curriculum, Cyber Civics, with students in schools across the US and she has been a frequent guest on our Cyberwise Chats. She has even raised a ton of money in order to donate our curriculum to schools and organizations in several states. You might be seeing a lot of Taylor in the future, as she is currently representing the great state of Nevada as Miss Nevada 2023. We could not be more proud to have Taylor representing us AND helping kids learn how to be safe online. Recently, our very own Marketing Manager, Connor Cohen reached out to Taylor to talk to her about the importance of digital literacy in today’s world.
Starting Her Journey:
In late 2021, Taylor was considering creating her own online safety curriculum for students. She realized the need for this after creating an internet safety campaign called “Text To Regret”. Text 2 Regret is devoted to guaranteeing that all students are equipped with the tools to navigate the digital world and even garnered an official proclamation from the Governor of Alabama in 2021. April 16th, 2021 was even known as Text 2 Regret Day. Since then Taylor has been working to continually bring digital literacy education to students across the country.
She’s Busy Raising Awareness:
A key aspect of Taylor's advocacy is raising awareness about online safety education which is an important component of digital literacy. She emphasizes that digital literacy is not just about being online; it actually encompasses a myriad of interconnected issues that demand attention today. “I believe that with Cyber Civics and its diverse range of topics, students are able to engage in conversations that promote ethical and safe online behavior that touch on several different important points,” says Taylor.
Taylor is enthusiastic about the varied topics covered in Cyber Civics, and likes how each lesson transforms a simple concept into complex and deep discussions. Taylor let us know that “the teachers that I talk to love that the lessons bridge the gaps between simple concepts and complex ones, the lessons really allow for kids of all ages to learn digital literacy no matter where they are in their online journey.” She told us that she is a big fan of our lessons on misinformation, emphasizing its relevance in today's digital landscape.
One of the reasons Taylor finds Cyber Civics compelling is its user-friendly nature. She notes that the curriculum is easy to work with, making it accessible for teachers and students alike. This is probably because the program is teacher-created and teacher-approved!
The Future of Digital Literacy:
According to Taylor, the future of digital literacy is not a single-issue matter. It revolves around addressing numerous interconnected challenges. “It’s really about all of these issues coming together like cyberbullying, misinformation, plagiarism and online behavior,” says Taylor. “Digital literacy is about more than just how to use technology, it’s how to use it ethically to address each aspect of our online experience.”
In order to address these challenges, Taylor believes there is a need for educators to listen to the voices of students. It’s important for teachers to find out what students are dealing with in order to guide them towards acting ethically and responsibly in the online world.
“That’s what I love about Cyber Civics,” says Taylor. “It’s a chance for students to have a voice when it comes to online digital literacy. Cyber Civics talks about the online world like a student would and really meets the students where they are at digitally and educationally”.
The Biggest Challenges Today?
Taylor says that one of the biggest challenges kids face today is engaging with random strangers online. She noted that while technology has opened up the world to communication for children, it has also exposed them to challenges and problems like this one. She emphasizes the importance of fostering a willingness to talk openly about online experiences, encouraging every child to have an adult they can confide in. That way, when and if they do experience an uncomfortable or even dangerous conversation with a stranger, they aren’t afraid to tell a trusted adult about it. Additionally, she believes that parents and teachers should be active on social media too, in order to better understand the platforms and the experiences that children are having.
What Taylor is Up To Today:
Today, Taylor is actively involved in a campaign to donate the Cyber Civics curriculum to schools across the nation. With a goal to reach at least one school in 30 states, she has already made progress, having successfully introduced the curriculum to 29 schools! (Editor note: Her original goal was 25 schools but she smashed this goal and is not looking back!) Her objective is to provide free Cyber Civics Mini curriculum courses to schools in need. Cyber Civics Mini is a condensed version of our turnkey middle school digital literacy program. It includes eight lessons plus activities, slides with engaging videos, student packets, parent letters, and teacher support to teach key digital citizenship, information, and media literacy topics. Currently, she has donated curriculum to schools in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
Here are the states Taylor is still shooting for: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.
She Wears a Crown Too!
Taylor was recently crowned Miss Nevada 2023, and her platform is “to bring digital literacy programs to young people across the country.” This makes sense as she has been a passionate advocate for digital literacy and online safety education for many years now. Through her work, she is making a meaningful impact on the lives of students, promoting responsible and ethical behavior in the digital realm and beyond by focusing on the importance of comprehensive digital literacy education for the next generation.