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Cyber Civics: Level 3

Media Literacy for Positive Participation

In our multimedia world, digital citizens need skills to critically evaluate and creatively produce media—not just the printed word, but visual and audio media too! This program provides a turnkey curriculum plus support for a full year of "Media Literacy For Positive Participation" in-classroom lessons. Includes critical lessons on "fake" news, sexting, media stereotypes, and more!

About Level 3


This, the powerful final level of Cyber Civics, focuses on media literacy which is "the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms." Within this turnkey program you will find lessons (downloadable and easy-to-teach), videos, parent engagement letters, background materials, and access to one-to-one support -- so that you can teach these important skills.

Why IS "Media Literacy" So Important?









In 2015, the Pew Research Center reported that "teens go online 'almost constantly'" facilitated by the widespread access to new technologies. For more hours per day than they spend in school or with their families, they are exposed to the powerful images and sounds of a multimedia world. In order to become literate participants, young people must be just as fluent in the language of images and sounds as they are at reading the printed word. Additionally, they need opportunities to practice using critical thinking skills to evaluate the daily assault of media messages and to learn how to become positive participants in the dialogue of their day. This is so important that many states across the U.S. have recently mandated that "media literacy" lessons be taught in school.



After developing Cyber Civics: Level 1 (Digital Citizenship) and Level 2 (Information Literacy), it was clear our students were prepared and eager to put their critical thinking skills to work both analyzing and creating media messages. So this powerful third level of Cyber Civics was created. While there are many excellent lessons in media literacy available elsewhere, Cyber Civics curates some of the best and combines them with new lessons that build upon the strong foundation of the previous two years of this program. Like Levels 1 and 2, this year emphasizes ethical and critical thinking, discussion and decision-making through hands-on projects, problem-solving activities, and role-playing games. Although Level 3 can be taught without technology, it works best when students use computers or tablets.



Frequently Asked Questions


  • Subscription cost is determined by size of school.

  • Subscribing schools/organizations receive a school-wide license with full support.

  • Any teacher at that school or organization can open a private account and get access to lessons (downloadable PDF's), videos, teacher guides, and parent letters.

  • Resources are always current and kept updated.

  • Teachers receive a monthly newsletter announcing new lessons and resources.

  • Multiple school/district discounts available.

  • Low home school cost and a family program.
  • For online demonstrations or onsite presentations, contact us.






“Since the Cyber Civics classes started at our school, there have been only three reported incidences of poor digital behavior; none in the last two years. This is unheard of in this day and age. What has been a small investment has paid off tenfold. Plus it allows us to put our energy on what matters most, learning and teaching in a happy, safe, and healthy community.”


-Shaheer Faltas, Journey School Administrator


"After seeing Journey School's Cyber Civics program presentation and learning more about it, I am pleased to endorse it on behalf of Charters OC as a solution to helping young people learn how to use digital media competently and thoughtfully."


-Susan Mas, Executive Director, Charters OC- an initiative of Innovators OC and the California Charter Schools Association

“Over the course of three years working with Diana Graber and watching her develop the curriculum, I recognize that it is based on the the same cognitive developmental skills that are foundational to Waldorf teaching in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. While this curriculum has found a rich home in Waldorf schools that foster ethical development, it is a curriculum that can fit in all educational settings.”


- Bonnie River, Chair of Hybrid Program, Rudolf Steiner College

"The thoughtfulness and breadth of the program is an asset to our school, and the parents are very happy to have "tech-driver's-ed" in our curriculum."

-Soni Albright, East Bay Waldorf School


"We know that digital-citizenship education works. The Journey School in Aliso Viejo, a small Southern California city, is an example of a digital-citizenship success story. Since instituting a three-year middle school series on digital citizenship, information literacy on evaluation of online sources, and media-literacy courses to teach critical-thinking skills around media texts of all kinds—music videos, film, print advertising—the school has nearly eliminated bullying and behavioral issues and significantly boosted standardized-test scores."

-Education Week, July 2016

"Cyber Civics is the best digital media literacy curriculum I've seen yet as it is developmentally based and creative."


-Sheila Reilly, Administrator, Woodland Star Charter School



"Since cyber-life is imperative to a child's future, isn't it about time to demand that schools implement Cyber Civics classes?"


-Online Safety Expert Sue Scheff, in "Digital Citizenship Is a Important as Potty Training: Let's Start Cyber Civics In All Schools




If a Cyber Civics or digital literacy class is offered in your school or community, sign the kids up."

Kelly Wallace, CNN, in "5 Things To Think About Before Buying Your Child a Cell Phone"

About The Founder


For a visual "screen share" overview of the curriculum, contact us)



  • What IS Media Literacy?

  • Syllabus

  • NAMLE: Core Principles of

  • Media Literacy Education


(Subscriber-Only Resources Below)


In this level students put critical thinking skills to work evaluating media messages, but first they evaluate their own media use. Students discover the difference between “consuming” and “producing” media as they learn what it means to live in a “participatory culture” (a term coined by scholar Henry Jenkins). They begin to understand how to participate and contribute to media discourse in powerful and positive ways.

  • Lesson 1: Are You a Consumer or a Producer?

  • Lesson 2: Are You a Multitasker?

  • Lesson 3 (2 Parts): Let's Get Blogging



In the book, Net Smart: How To Thrive Online, author and Stanford professor Howard Rheingold introduces the C.R.A.P. Detection test by writing, “The first thing we all need to know about information online is how to detect crap, a technical term I use for information tainted by ignorance, inept communication, or deliberate deception.” In this unit students learn how to use Rheingold’s test, an unforgettable tool that will help them assess the reliability of information and websites they find online.

  • Lesson 1: C.R.A.P. Detection

  • Lesson 2: Using C.R.A.P. Detection Skills



One of the wonderful things about living in a participatory culture is that anyone and everyone can be a purveyor of information and news. This is one of the great downsides too. This unit teaches students how to be critical consumers of news media, and helps them understand how misinformation can spread via the Internet and social media, and even find its way into mainstream “news.”

  • Lesson 1: What's News?

  • Lesson 2: Understanding "Fake" News

  • Lesson 3: Clickbait and Deepfakes

  • Lesson 4: Simon Says It's Fake

  • 2 Unit Quiz



A critical media participant should know how to recognize and understand the role media plays in creating and perpetuating stereotypes. In this unit students put C.R.A.P. Detection skills to work as they take a critical look at media stereotypes.

  • Lesson 1: Seeing Stereotypes

  • Lesson 2: Stereotypes All Around Us

  • Lesson 3: Selling to Stereotype (2 Parts)



From Instagram to YouTube, Snapchat and more, many of the messages young people consume and create are visual. This unit helps students learn how to read and create visual media, and also teaches them how to be less susceptible to visual manipulations.

  • Lesson 1: Before There Was Photoshop

  • Lesson 2: Every Picture Tells a Story

  • Lesson 3: Spot That Photoshop

  • Lesson 4: Food Takes Center Stage

  • 2 Unit Quiz



This unit intentionally follows the Visual Literacy Unit when students have explored how communication today, especially between young people, is becoming increasingly visual. Sexting, which is “the sending OR receiving of sexually suggestive, nude, or seminude images,” is a serious digital age issue and in many states individuals who distribute, possess, or produce a sexually explicit image of a minor could be charged under the state’s child pornography statutes. This unit addresses the fact that many young people are unaware of the potentially serious consequences of “sexting.”

  • Lesson 1: Let's Talk About Sexting

  • Lesson 2: Sexting: What To Do About It



The ultimate objective of these lessons is to transition students from being “digital citizens” into becoming “digital leaders” who will wield technology with purpose and positivity. This unit arms students with powerful skills and knowledge of tools that can help them achieve this end.

  • Lesson 1: The Power of Social Media

  • Lesson 2: Trolls, Lurkers, and Upstanders

  • Lesson 3: Your Brain on Tech

  • Lesson 4: Emerging Technologies and Ethical Thinking

  • Final Activity: Are You a Consumer or a Producer Now?



We recommend that all schools use this unit in conjunction with an “8th grade project” or a “passion project” of a student’s choice. This unit shows students how to use digital media to research, write, cite, and create stunning visual presentations using free software. These are all important research skills students will use in high school and beyond.

  • Lesson 1:Filters and Operators

  • Lesson 2: Search Like a Pro

  • Lesson 3: Avoiding Plagiarism

  • Lesson 4: How To Cite Right

  • Lesson 5: Let's Review! Copyright, Fair Use, Public Domain

  • Lesson 6: Present Like a Pro





Diana Graber, M.A., is the author of "Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology" (HarperCollins Leadership). In addition to founding Cyber Civics, she is the founder of CyberWise (No Grownup Left Behind!), a leading online safety organization for parents. 

Graber has an extensive background as a media producer, was Adjunct Professor of Media Psychology at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology (MSPP), and her published paper: New Media Literacy Education: A Developmental Approach (JMLE, 2012) provides the foundational research for the Cyber Civics program. She is the recipient of the 2017 Media Literacy Teacher award from the National Association of Media Literacy in Education (NAMLE) and is a regular contributor to a number of publications. A long-time Waldorf parent, she developed and still teaches Cyber Civics™ at Journey School. Graber has a B.A. in Communication Studies from UCLA and an M.A. in Media Psychology and Social Change from Fielding Graduate University. She travels widely speaking to schools and community groups. 

For more info:

Photo by Nirzhar Business Portraits.

"No longer is it enough to be able to read the printed word; children, youth, and adults too, need the ability to both critically interpret the powerful images of a multimedia culture and express themselves in multiple media forms."

 -Elizabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls,

"Media Literacy: A National Priority for a Changing World"

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© 2020 Cyber Civics LLC™

Finalist for the Project Tomorrow/OC Tech Alliance "Innovation in Education" Award.

2017 "Media Literacy Teacher" Award from NAMLE