We often hear stories about how teens are hurting each other through social media use. They are picking on each other, posting embarrassing photos, or worse intentionally aiming to do harm. However, there are some teens who are recognizing how social media use can be damaging and are doing something about it. In fact, there are plenty of ways that social media can be used to uplift, inspire, and encourage. This article discusses some of the positive ways that teens can use social media.
Positive Social Media Use for Girls
In the past, girls have been cruel to one another on Instagram, Twitter, and other sites. It’s common to find a social media page go up and everyone post their hateful messages about one classmate. A girl’s picture will get posted and accompanying it will be a horrible caption.
However, some girls are changing that. To counter the hate that teen girls have spewed onto each other, positive social media sites are being created. Now, teen girls are intentionally creating new social media pages that include row after row of positive pictures and encouragement. Here are a few examples of the positive ways that teen girls are spreading positivity:
Challenges: There’s a trend these days on social media sites to challenge your peers. It goes something like this: how many confident selfies can you post? or who should win the award for the most generous celebrity? These sort of challenges help build self-esteem, confidence, and general good vides.
Support: Research shows that 73% of teen girls use social media to get support from their peers. They can get that when teens offer them compliments versus criticism. Fortunately, as a result of the hate that girls have experienced, more and more social media sites among female adolescents are focusing on love, positive laughter, and connection.
Important Issues: Not only are female adolescents spreading the love, they’re also spreading important information. For instance, one twitter feed highlights the outfits teen girls were sent home for. Too much shoulder or too much leg was exposed in their outfit that apparently violated the school dress code. However, when girls get that out on social media, they get more response from school administrators. When this video about dress code in Kentucky schools got over 300,000 views, the high school changed their policy.
These are just a few ways that girls are changing the trend from hate to love in their schools and among their peers.
Find Compliments on Twitter
Along these lines, Jeremiah Anthony and two friends got together in Iowa City to create a new twitter feed focused on compliments. Together, they tweet heartfelt and thoughtful compliments, which has drawn over 4,000 followers. When the boys were interviewed for The Today Show, one of their followers announced that “a compliment can change a person’s entire life”. Here’s why the Twitter feed has likely gotten so much attention:
- Research shows that about 75% of teens want to be kind to one another.
- About 88% of teens have witnessed cruelty on social media.
- Too many teens get bullied, harassed, and segregated because they are “less than perfect”.
- Almost 15% of teens who have used social media have been the target of online cruelty.
- Two thirds of teens who have witnessed cruelty on social media have also witnessed others join in, and 21% say they have joined in on the harassment too.
It’s very possible that teens are getting tired of the cruelty and want more positive, uplifting ways of connecting with their peers. Jeremiah’s Twitter feeds allows that opportunity.
Teens Change the World on Social Media
Like Jeremiah, there are hundreds of teens who are engaging in social media use to create excitement for a cause or change the world in some way. Here are a few ways that teens have taken social media use into their own hands in order to make a difference:
- Julia Warren uses her blog to get volunteers and donations for her nonprofit, Celebrate RVA, which she started in high school. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide birthday celebrations for disadvantaged children in her community.
- Hannah Alper, just 13 years old, has over 34,000 followers on Twitter, writes for the Huffington Post, and has a large following on her blog. Her aim is to inspire others to change the world in their own way. Hannah advocates for animals’ rights, anti-bullying efforts, and environmental causes.
- 14-year old Joshua Williams is determined to end hunger around the world. The Joshua Heart Foundation has recruited over 100,000 teen volunteers and has raised over a half million dollars. Joshua makes use of social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others to spread the news about his cause.
- One day Jah’Kiyla Atwaters was cheerleading and a group of other girls stood at the gate watching. Jah’Kiyla has had a privileged life and has the opportunity to afford to participate in cheerleading. In fact, Jah’Kiyla also has an acting career and a modeling career. Yet, when she approached the girls at the gate, they told her that they couldn’t afford to cheerlead and that their mom had passed away. Jah’Kiyla realized that there are girls who probably would love to cheerlead but who don’t have the resources to do so. In response, Jah’Kiyla created a nonprofit to help raise the funds for those who want to play sports but who can’t afford it.
Although there may be a great deal of negative interaction on social media sites, there is also plenty of positivity too. As seen from the examples above, there are teens building nonprofits, advocating for a cause, staying positive for their peers, and sending out compliments. In fact, when an issue gets posted on social media there’s more attention drawn to it, and in turn, there are more teens focused on doing good in the world than creating harm.
Yes, social media has historically been a tool for bullying, but it doesn’t have to be. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are simply tools; it’s how we decide to use them that makes the difference.