18 Teens Using Social Media for Good Deeds
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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!
Parent VIP Member
Josh's presentation about social media was unbelievably fantastic. Our students learned so much about what kids should and shouldn't be doing. The fact that it is such a thoughtful process made it all worthwhile.
Director of College Advising
Educator Webinar Attendee
This webinar is a very helpful eye-opener on the apps that are popular with my students.
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This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
This app is not safe for students to use unsupervised, but a Green Zone app can serve a positive purpose to help a student to navigate social media and someday build an online brand. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Green Zone.
This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Gray Zone apps often contain lots of private & disappearing messages, and strangers can use this to chat with students. Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe. This zone can be a great place for family time since many of these apps can be entertaining, and let your students express themselves. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Gray Zone.
This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone.
Red Zone apps often have lots of anonymous features, adult content, and easy contact with strangers. Supervision is strongly suggested on each of these apps or move your kids to a safer zone. All apps require parental supervision, these apps more than others. Read more below to find out why this app is in the Red Zone or view our list of 100+ Apps to find a safer app with your student.
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This trend is categorized as a Dangerous Social Media Challenge.
Viral challenges encourage students to do dangerous things to garner likes, views, attention, and subscribers. These challenges can be found across several social networks and may encourage students to perform dangerous activities. SmartSocial.com keeps parents updated on these social media challenges before an incident may occur in your community.
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There’s so much bad publicity these days about teens and social media. Cyberbullying, inappropriate postings on social networking sites, apps that put teens in bad situations...problems like these tend to make headlines. But there are also students out there using social media in positive ways- sometimes wonderful, life-changing ways that show you’re never too young to make a difference.
We found some teens using social media for good deeds and worthy causes that we want to share with our readers. Get ready to be inspired.
1. Social media with a purpose
Josh Ochs, Founder, SmartSocial.com
Helping students find a positive purpose for their time online and on social media and avoiding dangers is my life's passion. We know teens want to be on social media to be where their friends are at, be part of their social world, and find entertainment throughout their day. When students use that time online to create a positive online reputation for themselves, or organizations they work with, they are doing a good deed for their own futures.
In the SmartSocial Student Branding Academy, we teach students to use their time online to discover and refine the positive interests in their life, especially ones that could lead to amazing opportunities, jobs, or college offers in the future. With a plan for their online brand, they can create a digital footprint with a portfolio and carefully craft social media interactions that further their interests and reputation online for others to see (when the time is right). Learn more about the SmartSocial.com Student Branding Academy here.
2. College students create semester-long campaigns
Dr. Andrew Selepak, Professor, University of Florida
The past few years I have had students create a semester-long, real-world social media campaign to use social media for the social good. The purpose of the assignment is to show students why online social movements often fail and how difficult it can be to create a social media campaign from the ground up.
Students select a cause and then work with a local organization here in North Central Florida to raise funds or donations for the organization using social media.
Students have been successful with their campaigns, raising money and donations for groups like the Boys and Girls Club, homeless shelters, and animal rescues. The idea is that it is difficult to change the world, but it is possible to make small positive changes in the community that are meaningful for those helped.
It is a group project and not all the students are always interested in the cause or even the assignment, but college students also know how toxic social media can be, and truthfully, we discuss a lot of the ways social media is harmful in class.
The ability to see how social media can be used to help others, learn how to do it, and be successful with it can potentially show them that social media doesn’t just have to be fake news, trolls, echo chambers, and clout chasing, but can be a force for good.
Hear more about Dr. Selepak's social media for good deeds examples:
3. Donating meals to the hungry using their voices & social media
Cassie and Sabrina Glow, The Glow Girls
The Glow Girls, as they are known in the voiceover industry, wanted to find a way to help others during the challenging times of the pandemic. The sisters decided to use a portion of their voiceover booking earnings each month to support a charitable organization called Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, that fights hunger and offers hope in the community.
In 2021, the Glow Girls donated over 12,000 meals! Wanting to make an even bigger impact, the Glow Girls used social media to host a virtual food drive to donate even more meals at the holidays. They created Instagram posts, Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, shared across Facebook and LinkedIn... and tapped into their social media community to donate another 8,000 meals!
4. Students create an app for safety
Charlie and Hannah Lucas, notOk app
Charlie and Hannah Lucas were looking out for the safety of others when they created the notOk app. The notOK app allows users to easily reach out to their preselected, trusted contacts when they are in need of help.
By simply pressing the large, red button shown when the app is opened, a pre-typed message, as well as the user’s GPS location, is sent out. Charlie and Hannah, students from Cumming, Georgia, have reached thousands with their ingenious idea, as their app has been downloaded by over 87,000 devices since its launch in 2018.
(Note Charlie and Hannah were 2021 Digital4Good winners.)
5. Sharing accessibility information with a free app
Alex Knoll, Ability App
Alex Knoll created the Ability App, a free app to allow people to find and rate accessible places that meet specific needs for mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive impairments.
On the app’s website, Alex writes: “"When I was 9 years old, I saw a man in a wheelchair struggling to open a manual door. I wondered if there was a resource that he could have used to see what businesses around his area had automatic doors so he could actually access the business. I couldn't find anything like that, so I created the Ability App.”
Users can research accessibility at public spaces such as retail stores, restaurants, hotels, parks, theaters, and more, from any computer or mobile device.
(Note: Alex was a 2020 Digital4Good winner)
6. Spreading kindness on Instagram
Carlie Steele, Carlie’s Kindness
Carlie Steele spreads kindness through her nonprofit, Carlie’s Kindness. Through her organization, she chooses projects that are close to her heart to take part in including sending Christmas gifts to troops overseas, holding First Responder Appreciation Day, and Remembering 9/11 events. She started Carlie’s Kindness when she was just nine years old!
(Note: Charlie was a 2020 Digital4Good winner)
7. Creating a podcast gives teenagers a voice
Gael Aitor, Teenager Therapy Podcast
Gael Aitor is one of five high school friends who started the Teenager Therapy Podcast. They created the podcast after realizing how important it is for teenagers to know there are others going through similar issues as them. At age 15, Gael overheard a podcast for marriage therapy and had the idea of offering something similar for teenagers.
With their own marketing efforts on social media and no marketing budget, their podcast has accrued a very large following. (Note: Many of the episodes in this podcast include explicit language. Please preview episodes as a family to determine if this source is appropriate for your teens.)
(Note: Charlie was a 2020 Digital4Good winner)
8. Teen creates a collaborative website to share stories and inspire others
Gray, Wondermint Kids
Gray created her first blog, Wondermint Kids, when she was 8 years-old. It was meant for friends and family, but eventually was watched by over 150k followers. Now a teen, she created Girl Folk for girls (guys are welcome, too) like her, interested in art, music, fashion, reading, food, and travel from a girl’s perspective.
The teens work really hard and inspire girls from around the world to turn in stories on mental health, self-care, travel, cooking and more. The website's main teen writers live on the remote and rural island of Orcas and work with girls from Australia, LA, and France. The company is now a non-profit and is run by girls, for girls.
9. North Texas teens use social media to support disadvantaged students, tackle literacy gap issues, and more
Pranav Pattatathunaduvil, Be the Light Youth Association
Pranav Pattatathunaduvil, has been the Executive Director at a fully student-run 501(c)3 called the Be the Light Youth Association since she was 17 years old. Made up of over 30 high-school students from North Texas, they often use social media for good causes!
In July 2020, Be the Light used social media as a way to advertise a book drive for disadvantaged students. Be the Light Team members used platforms, like Instagram, to set up contactless book pickups from members of the community.
They also used social media to reach out to countless people in the area for book donations. As a result, they collected a whopping 2600 books, over 500% more than their initial goal. They donated the books to the Reading Partners of North Texas and Edufree to help tackle the literacy gap in the region.
Be the Light members have also used social media to advertise their weekly speech and debate classes for 4th-9th grade students. In 3 years, over 400 students have registered for their classes which helped them raise over $100,000. All of the profits are donated to local charities that support disadvantaged children.
10. Police officer’s daughter creates non-profit to help children of fallen law enforcement officers cope
Blue Line Bears is a nonprofit organization with the goal of helping the children of fallen law enforcement officers cope with the devastating loss of a parent. Megan, the daughter of a police officer, was 14 years-old when she created the organization after realizing many parents risk their lives each time they go to work.
Blue Line Bears uses the uniforms of fallen police officers to make teddy bears for their families. Through the use of donations and other contributions, Blue Line Bears covers the entire cost of the gift. Their goal is to help keep the officer’s memory alive and to help the child see that there are caring individuals who respect and appreciate men and women in uniform.
11. Teen fundraisers to provide elementary school kids with notebooks
Jack, Kids in Need
Jack, a 16 year-old high school student, has helped supply thousands of elementary school kids with notebooks through Kids in Need, a national non-profit organization that provides school supplies to under-resourced students around the country.
His fundraising page says:
With a donation of only $6, you could help provide an entire class of students the opportunity to make the most out of their education. Each box contains enough to supply an average size class of 24 students with notebooks. Shipping is already covered, meaning every single penny donated will be put directly into the funding of additional notebooks. During difficult times like these, the last thing parents need to be worried about (especially those who are having a difficult time making ends meet) is providing their children with school supplies.
The fundraiser has gathered so much attention online, that the George Shinn Foundation is graciously supporting Jack's effort by matching the donation total. If he raises enough money for 20,000 notebooks, the Foundation will double that amount, supplying young students with up to 40,000 notebooks this upcoming school year.
12. Blogging in middle school and helping others earned teens local hero status
Michael and Marc Guberti, Business Whiz Kids
In middle school, Michael and Marc started using social media to promote their baseball blogs about the Boston Red Sox and NY Mets. In an effort to inspire his peers to never give up and pursue their dreams, Michael also wrote about athletes and how they would overcome their challenges. Marc wrote about living with food allergies and getting used to that as a kid for others struggling with the same issues.
Because of their blogging experience in middle school, Michael and Marc learned how to gain visibility on social media and then created a program called Teenager Entrepreneur. This program is a personal and business empowerment program, Business Whiz Kids, that teaches students how to gain confidence, conquer fears, and find their passion. They offered this program to underprivileged adolescents, created a non-profit 501C3, Guberti Giving, to get grants, and have offered scholarships to children for the past 5 years.
The program was held at Fordham University for the first four years and now they travel to schools to empower students.
The NY Knicks granted them the Sweetwater Clifton ‘City Spirit’ Award which pays tribute to local heroes who have made a significant difference in the lives of others.
The award is named in honor of the late Knicks great, Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, who was the first African-American to play for the Knickerbockers. Recipients of this award epitomize the same trailblazing characteristics of the Knicks Legend.
It all started with using social media in a positive manner and empowering their peers to do the same.
13. Teen, bullied as a child, uses social media as a tool to advocate tolerance, kindness, acceptance, and inclusion
Charles Kolin, Unity Challenge
Charles Kolin is the founder of startup Unity Challenge and is using social media as a way to attract people to join his cause to stop bullying, discord, and hate.
Charles' advocacy for tolerance, kindness, and acceptance started when he was a child. He was bullied by his grade school peers due to a neuro disorder that made him different. He was taunted, excluded from groups, and shunned by classmates. He was not shown tolerance or inclusion by his young classmates. (Charles has a Non-Verbal Learning Disability. People who have NVLD, a brain-based condition, are characterized by difficulty recognizing and processing nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expression, and the nuances of conversation; poor visual, spatial, and organizational skills, and reduced motor performance. Often they are marginalized and isolated; consequently, they can experience social barriers throughout their lives.)
Charles traveled to Washington with his parents to meet with dozens of Senators and Representatives to share his unity message. He is pushing for a national day, called Unity Day, to be recognized on the last Wednesday in October of every year.
“Whether you’ve been bullied like me or you simply have a different point of view on an issue, or you’ve been discriminated against, we need a Unity Day. We need a day where despite all of our differences we are unified for a purpose that is uniquely human .... our humanity itself,” he said.
14. Teen throws memorable birthday celebrations for disadvantaged children
Julia Warren, celebrate! RVA
Julia Warren had an epiphany a few years ago. For most kids, birthday parties are an annual rite of passage- something usually taken for granted. Yet in Julia’s own hometown of Richmond, Va., there were kids living in poverty who had never had a single birthday party of their own. And this, she decided, was unacceptable.
Julia founded celebrate! RVA to give disadvantaged children in Richmond memorable birthday parties—with fun food, activities, decorations, and of course, cake—to make sure every child feels loved and celebrated on their special day.
The non-profit organization’s website serves to recruit volunteers as well as donations. The blog shows highlights from recent parties, including special guests like players from the University of Richmond Lacrosse team and even local police who come to celebrate with the birthday boy or girl. She’s spreading the love online while making wonderful memories for countless Richmond children. It’s enough to make her readers want to celebrate, too.
15. Three teens are furthering the acceptance of disabled children by promoting education
Ivan Boyers, Andrew Goodrum, and Ariel Kim, Ark's Foundation
Ivan Boyers, Andrew Goodrum and Ariel Kim were part of a group of high school students who participated in a 2013 community service project in Ghana through the organization VISIONS Service Adventures. They volunteered at three different work sites, including helping to fix up a dormitory at a local center for disabled children, called the Physically Challenged Action Foundation (PCAF).
As their time in Ghana came to a close, the three friends vowed that upon returning home, they would work to raise money to help the center fulfill its dream of building an on-site school- and Ark’s Foundation was born. They raised almost $70,000, according to social media, to assist with the school’s construction.
Ivan explained that social media was a major catalyst in their effort. “Regarding our message, we really desired a brand. Therefore, we started by establishing a logo and a website that includes all the vital information for which donors would be looking. Unfortunately, we were still unknown to most of the world. Social media filled this void. Through Facebook, we post photos updating viewers about progress in Ghana but also simply informing potential donors of opportunities to give. Facebook provided a platform through which we could direct people straight to the donation page of our website. And the 'share button has been a huge help to our spread.”
Andrew adds that he looks forward to the day they can revisit the site and see the school completed. “It would be the most amazing, awe-inspiring experience,” he says, “to see the radiant smiles on the children’s faces as they head to school for the first time.”
16. Teen motivates people of all ages to identify their passion and take action
Hannah Alper, Call Me Hannah
If there’s such a thing as a social-media prodigy, Hannah Alper is it.
Hannah, who is from Toronto, launched her blog Call Me Hannah when she was just nine years old. Her father, Eric Alper, says Hannah’s passion for speaking out about important causes started early on with her love of animals, which quickly spread to concern for threatened habitats and the environment as a whole.
Fast forward four years, and Hannah, now 13, has not only built a huge following for her blog but gained influence through public speaking and so much more. She has 34,000 followers on Twitter, writes for The Huffington Post, and serves as both a Me to We Motivational Speaker and Free the Children Ambassador. Meanwhile, her advocacy has expanded to also include anti-bullying efforts and celebrating other young role models, including Malala Yousafzai.
Hannah goes by a lot of descriptions, from eco-warrior to “kindraiser.” And if you want to know what kindraising is, here it is in Hannah’s own words from one of her Huffington Post blogs: “Kindraising is all about changing our communities and the world through kindness. I believe that it takes more than money to create a lot of change that we’re working on and that compassion, empathy and kindness play a huge part in reaching our goal.”
17. Teen helps disadvantaged children play sports
Jah'Kiyla Atwaters, Jump with Jah'kiyla
Competitive cheerleader Jah’Kiyla Atwaters of Boynton Beach, Florida was practicing cheerleading routines at a park when she noticed some girls outside the gate watching. When Jah’Kiyla encouraged them to try cheering themselves, one of them responded, “My mom died, and my sister is taking care of us. She doesn’t have any extra money for me to cheer.”
Saddened by the story, Jah’kiyla told her mom, and together they formed the Jump with Jah’kiyla (JWJ) Foundation to provide children who normally couldn’t afford it the opportunity to play sports. They created a website to encourage donations and to help kids and their families apply for sports vouchers. Jah’kiyla also launched a social media campaign asking kids to create, and photograph themselves with, posters of their favorite sport.
The website BlackCelebrityGiving highlighted the JWJ Foundation in 2014, noting, “The urge to help others and her outgoing personality led Jah’Kiyla to where she is today.”
18. Teen is on a mission to end hunger around the world
Joshua Williams, Joshua's Heart Foundation
Through the Joshua’s Heart Foundation, Joshua Williams of Miami, Florida has recruited more than 25,000 young volunteers and helped raise more than $1 million to help feed hungry individuals and families around the world. Having developed a passion for helping the hungry when he was just four years old, he uses his website to encourage people of all ages to join in the cause.
To help spread the word and good deeds, Joshua makes use of all the major social-media channels including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. His site also features blogs from other young people who help spread the word and share their experiences with the organization.
“Joshua empowers and engages young people ages two and up to find their passion or purpose and use it for the better good," explained his mom.
As parents and educators, it might be tough to see the positive side of social media sometimes. But for some teens, it’s not all about finding the best filter for selfies or the latest viral video challenge. Here at SmartSocial.com, it’s our mission to keep kids safe on social media so they can shine online- and these young people are certainly shining examples about the positivity that can be found online.
Students are you using this page for your homework and need to cite your source? Use this MLA format:
“17 Teens Using Social Media for Good Deeds.” SmartSocial, 3 March 2022, https://smartsocial.com/post/teens-using-social-media-good-deeds.
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