When an eight-year old member of the Cyberhero League is eligible to vote, the year will be 2030 — the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative will be tallying their many “wins” — and our members will be celebrating the role they played in those achievements. But they will be doing more than celebrating. They will be taking their place among the change-makers and leaders of tomorrow. By educating youth about global challenges and introducing them to nonprofit organizations working to tackle them, they will grow up with the knowledge that they are not alone: there are millions of compassionate, committed, people working together to make the world a better place. By designing Cyberhero League so that children’s actions result in donations to these organizations, we are nurturing self-efficacy: a person’s belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. By teaching the proper use of technology and making it central to the Missions, we aim to help children learn to navigate a future in which technology is likely to play an increasingly important role.
Why teach kids about digital technologies? Why add the “Cyber” to “Hero”? What difference does social media make, anyway?
EDUCATION: Think of all things “cyber” like you’d think of a knife. We don’t give children knives until they are old enough to understand that a knife has a sharp side that can be both useful and dangerous. In the Cyberhero League, children learn that “cyber” has a “sharp side” that can be used to help or harm—both themselves and others. They learn that some games are purposefully designed to be addictive, just like drugs. They learn that some people purposefully use social media to bully others. They also learn how to protect themselves online and how to use these technologies to benefit themselves and the world around them. Why? Because as long as there are bullies, there will be heroes.
EMPOWERMENT: When Greta Thunberg skipped school to sit outside the Swedish Parliament to protest lack of action about the climate crisis, a now famous photo was taken. Greta posted her original strike photo on Instagram and Twitter, and other social media accounts followed and shared. Soon, youth leaders around the world followed her lead and #FridaysForFuture became a global movement. Social media played a huge role in the success of this movement. By using digital technologies to positively impact the world these young people and those who supported them both online and off, became part of a new era of collaborative heroism. We aim to empower our Members with the knowledge that they too, can leverage these tools to achieve heroic aims.