Every middle school student in New Jersey would be instructed on the responsible use of social media, if a bill advancing through Trenton eventually earns the Governor's signature.

The Assembly Education Committee advanced a measure Monday that adds social media to the technology education curriculum for students in grades six through eight.

Computer at Oak Tree Elementary School, Monroe
A measure advancing in Trenton would make social media education mandatory for all middle school students. (Townsquare Media)

"There are plenty of instances of immediate and negative consequences caused by people acting inappropriately on social media sites," said Assembly Democrat Angel Fuentes, who sponsors the measure. "What few people take to heart, especially when they're young, is how permanent social media is."

Fuentes said with sites like Facebook and YouTube, anyone with access to the Internet can view years of behavior at a glance.

"Careers can be ruined, opportunities can be lost and relationships can be destroyed with the click of a 'Post' button," Fuentes added, referencing a Kaplan survey of college admissions officers that discovered 80 percent check social media pages when determining enrollment.

Students would learn the purpose and acceptable usage of the varying social media sites, as well as behavior that ensures cyber safety, ethics, and security on social media. According to Fuentes, the curriculum should also include the potentially-negative consequences of social media, such as bullying.

Lawmakers noted that social media can have its benefits, but it's up to adults to teach New Jersey's children about how to unlock its potential, instead of making that big mistake.

If approved by both houses of the legislature and the Governor, the bill would take effect immediately.

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