Who’s Behind the Wheels of a ‘Digital Driver’s License’?

If kids thought waiting until they were 13 to join Facebook was bad, how about adding the drama of a ‘digital driver’s license’ to the test?  That’s the idea proposed by a leading media organization – will it be enough to keep the “Internet highway” safe?

The ‘digital driver’s license’ proposed by influential media watchdog and online safety organization Common Sense Media (CSM) would be, in fact, more of a game than a test for now, using web-based tools to teach kids the “basics of online safety and security, privacy, cyberbullying and community, copyright and creation, and evaluation of websites,” according to CSM.

Former president Bill Clinton has endorsed the idea, along with the influential chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, and former New York City school chancellor Joel Klein.

All three were on hand for the 7th annual Common Sense Media Awards held last week in New York City, where the announcement was made.

CSM’s founder and CEO James Steyer told the audience the license will be introduced as part of the non-profit’s existing “Digital Literacy and Citizenship in a Connected Culture” curriculum offered for grades K-12, as well as a version for kids to use at home.

“Kids today are growing up in 24/7 media world with no road map to guide them,”  Steyer said.  “Young people need to learn to think critically and behave responsibly in this fast-paced digital world. It’s our hope that the digital driver’s license will allow us to reach every child in the country through schools, after-school programs, and at home to help them understand the rules of the road before they go online or go mobile.”

The group is relying on assessments from its existing network of more than 12,000 schools that use the curriculum to build the accompanying ‘license’ program.

The ‘digital driver’s license’ is still in development and not slated to launch until fall 2012, according to CSM, but could it become a mandate down the road?

Tell us what you think.  Is the Internet as dangerous as a car?  Should a license be required for kids to drive the virtual highway?



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