Discover the Difference: St. Albert students explore digital citizenship

by Diocese of Des Moines | March 22, 2024

Ben Tracy

In an era defined by the internet and social media, our access to information and connectivity has never been greater. However, with this digital revolution comes a price, particularly for our younger generations. Surveys reveal that a staggering 93% of teens are active users of social media platforms (NCES, 2023), spending nearly 5 hours per day on average scrolling through various apps (Rothwell, 2023). Yet, amid the allure of virtual connection, many adolescents are navigating the digital landscape without a compass, unaware of the potential pitfalls that lie ahead.

Ben Tracy's story is a poignant example of the repercussions of uninformed online behavior. Despite landing a prestigious government job, Tracy was abruptly dismissed on his first day due to social media posts made during his teenage years. This experience ignited his passion for advocating digital citizenship and responsible online conduct, leading to the creation of the Safe Social Network.

The Safe Social Network offers resources and insights to help individuals cultivate a positive online presence. Tracy's presentations, tailored specifically for students, delve into critical issues such as cyberbullying, online predators, and the impact of social media on mental well-being. By sharing his journey in an authentic and relatable manner, Tracy empowers students to make informed decisions in the digital realm.

At St. Albert Catholic, equipping students with the knowledge to thrive in an increasingly digital landscape is fundamental to the school's mission of helping students fulfill their spiritual, academic, moral and physical potential by following the teachings of the Catholic Church. Recognizing this need, the school recently welcomed Tracy to share his expertise through his presentation, "Navigating Life in the Digital Age." Tracy's presentations resonate with students, parents, and educators alike by covering topics ranging from online safety to the psychological effects of social media.

"As educators, parents, and community members, our collective responsibility is to nurture digital citizens equipped to thrive in an ever-evolving digital landscape," said Michaela Berg, elementary counselor. "By partnering with organizations like the Safe Social Network and embracing initiatives that prioritize digital literacy, we empower our youth to navigate the complexities of the online world with confidence and integrity."

Tracy tailors his presentations for different age groups, ensuring that each audience receives information relevant to their developmental stage. The school also provided an evening session, open to the entire St. Albert Catholic community, to empower parents with the knowledge to guide their children's online experiences effectively.

"Teaching students about digital citizenship is not merely a matter of safeguarding against online risks; it is an investment in the future of our society," said Pat Ryan, school administrator. "Through education, empowerment, and advocacy, we can shape a generation of digital citizens who harness the power of technology for positive change while upholding essential values of empathy, respect, and responsibility."

Serving the greater Council Bluffs community for over 50 years, St. Albert Catholic is the only school in southwest Iowa to offer a quality Catholic education for students from six weeks to high school graduation. Building on the foundation of Catholic values, St. Albert Catholic inspires students to fulfill their spiritual, academic, moral, and physical potential by following the teachings of the Catholic Church. To learn more, visit or email



National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Children's Internet Access at Home. Condition of Education. U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved [date], from

Rothwell, J. (2023, October 13). Teens Spend an Average of 4.8 Hours on Social Media Per Day. Retrieved March 14, 2024 from,for%2017%2Dyear%2Dolds.


Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.