My partner, Lori Lewis, & I embarked on a project toward the end of last year called Turn Your Voice Viral. Our intention was to educate students across the country about cyber bullying and teach them how to use social media in a positive way and to effect positive and viral change.
Since August we have seen around 500 students and we have also presented to groups of parents and teachers on the subject. We are very passionate about the issue and the more groups we see, the more evident it is becoming that this issue is an extremely serious one. We have heard from girls as young as 12 years old telling us that they downloaded apps on their phone without their parents' knowledge (not surprising in itself) only to find that they are being harassed and stalked by 50 year old men. Some apps are location based and these kids can be found because their location services are left on and they don't even know it. This morning we saw a new group and after the presentation a child of 13 came up to us almost in tears because she is being stalked and harassed by a group of men who have her phone number but whom she can't identify. It is so frightening what these kids have to deal with. What we find even worse is that they are not being educated on how to deal with these issues effectively. This is partly because the teachers and parents are not up to date with technology which makes the kids feel isolated from them. The end result is lonely and very depressed and scared kids and teens who feel like they have nowhere to turn for help.
That's where we come in. We have developed a series of comprehensive and informative presentations and feedback sessions for school kids from Grades 4-9 as well as workshops and information sessions for parents to educate them on the dangers that their kids face online as well as how to use the platforms themselves so they can help their children if they need to. When we see the school kids we always ask them to do a project at the end. The project is a "Viral Campaign For Good". The point of the project is to engage them in social media in a positive way and in so doing, show them the power of social media. We think that your video and movement #changeonething is a perfect example to all kids of how you can use social media to inspire positive change.
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