A new bill would require schools to teach safe social media usage

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Republican State Rep. Jim Murphy of the 94th District has proposed the “Show-Me Digital Health Act” to require schools to start teaching safe use of social media. 

Pre-filed on Dec. 1, HB 1585 would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to develop a new curriculum for grades three to 12 that contains at least one unit teaching responsible social media use. The department would have to make the curriculum available to every school district by the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year. 

The bill would require curriculum to teach proper utilization of  social media platforms, cyberbullying prevention and the ability to identify misinformation on the internet, among other requirements. Students would also be taught the potential negative consequences that can result from wrongful use of social media.

If passed, teachers would also be required to discuss how to access, evaluate, create and analyze every form of digital media and written communication.

Students would be required to learn digital etiquette, ethics, respectful discourse with people who have differing opinions, security, safety, digital footprints and the ability to identify rhetoric that incites violence. 

The curriculum must offer samples of resources, learning activities and training that would promote critical thinking and the skills necessary to evaluate forms of media. 

School districts will also be asked to provide professional development for teachers to ensure that each educator would be adequately prepared to provide clear instructions required under the bill. 

With education on the forefront of many lawmakers’ priorities for the 2022 legislative session, Missourians should expect to see some movement with HB 1585 early next year. 

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