MEDIA RELEASE: Maine Department of Education Resources on Helping Young People Safely Navigate the Internet

During his State of the Union address this week, President Biden called for increased measures to ensure young people are protected on the internet and while using social media. The Maine Department of Education offers parents, educators, and students a number of free resources, by grade level, to help young people safely navigate the internet and avoid dangers that can impact their physical and mental health.

The Maine Department of Education’s comprehensive web-based social emotional learning resource SEL4ME embeds specific lessons in interest safety at every grade level. For example, the second grade module Be Fine Online helps students learn ways to stay safe when online, including the importance of never revealing their personal information; sixth graders have lesson like Be Aware What You Share in which they gain a deeper understanding of internet safety and social media and on cyberbullying; the eighth grade lesson User Beware: The Scary Side of the Internet helps students understand that not everything on the internet is safe, including how to spot online predators and the dangers of sexting; and in 11th grade, students have access to Cyber Bullying and Digital Citizenship which goes into the effects of online bullying and the virtual footprint that can follow them into the work place.

SEL4ME is free to all Maine schools, families, and community partners and offers more than 450 PreK-12th grade learning modules. Each grade level hosts lessons within the five key elements of social emotional learning (SEL): self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships, and responsible decision making. Educators, families, and students can learn more and sign up here.

The Maine Department of Education’s Digital Learning Specialists, in partnership with the MLTI Ambassadors, also provide professional learning, resources, and support for digital citizenship, social media use, online safety, and cyber security. MLTI also partners with Common Sense Education to share digital citizenship and online safety resources with educators. Educators can also reach out to specialists directly to explore ways to integrate these skillsets into their instruction to help students stay safe online.

“The internet is a tremendous resource for students to explore and activate their passions, develop skills and knowledge, build connections, and expand their digital literacy, and Maine educators and schools are constantly integrating technology into teaching and learning in innovative ways,” said Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “We’re also committed to making sure students have the tools and resources they need to navigate the internet safely and avoid the very real dangers that President Biden outlined in his State of the Union speech that pose a threat to the physical and mental health of our young people. We encourage educators and families to take advantage of our free resources.”