A group of Utah students wants to make their classmates pass a “digital wellness” and online safety test in order to graduate high school.
On Tuesday, during an interim committee meeting of the Digital Wellness, Citizenship, and Safe Technology Commission, members of the Utah Attorney General’s Youth Advisory Committee pushed for altering a 2020 state law to standardize online safety training for students statewide.
The presentation, which was led by Skyline High School junior Joyce Wang and Anh Khoa Le, a sophomore, requested lawmakers revisit House Bill 372, which created the commission in 2020 and tries to promote online safety for young Utahns.
Part of the group’s presentation included a slide saying, “a potential statewide test may be added that will be required to graduate similar to that of the Civics Test.” Currently, Utah students are required to pass a civics test in order to graduate, according to state law.
“As we all know, the culture is changing, and our world is slowly becoming more and more dependent on the internet,” Khoa Le told the committee. “This is especially emphasized during the COVID-19 pandemic when virtually everything was online.”
The duo told the commission they want to amend HB372 and proposed changes that would require students to learn about healthy internet habits, staying safe online and combating cyberbullying.
State Sen. Derrin Owens, who co-chairs the committee, thanked the students for their presentation, saying, “if every student was as informed and passionate about this as you are, Utah would be a pretty safe place for our young people.”
In addition to the proposed digital wellness test, Aimee Winder Newton — the governor’s senior advisor and director of the Office of Families — said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox is considering statewide legislation regarding young people’s use of social media.
Winder Newton, who is also a member of the Salt Lake County Council, said Cox has talked to several legislators about proposing a bill, but she did not include any details on what would be included in that proposed legislation.
She added the governor’s office is also encouraging schools to create their own policies that prevent cell phones from being in classrooms.