Join us as we spotlight the teen advocates working to foster positive and safe experiences in social media.
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Antonio Chow, a spirited teenager, noticed the dark side of social media early on.
Just in sixth grade, he was glued to his phone, watching endless videos about movies and cars.
His grades plummeted, and he sensed a growing void in his life.
“I knew there was something wrong,” Antonio voiced, recalling his descent toward a social media-induced vortex of emptiness.
Fortunately, he pulled himself back, rediscovering joy in physical activities and reconnecting with his family.
Now 13, Antonio and his sister Angelina, 15, have vowed to create a safe space for others battling similar issues, diving into creating mental health-centered videos and brochures.
The Teens Leading Change Initiative
In a world where young individuals often find themselves unwitting participants in a ‘decades-long experiment,’ according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek K. Murthy, a group of teenagers is setting a new course.
Powered by their initiative, Teens Leading Change, they are creating resources to foster healthier interactions with social media platforms, giving a new direction to the age-old conversation surrounding its impact on young minds.
This group of teenagers, including Antonio and Angelina, have been using the Los Angeles Public Library’s platforms to share helpful tips on navigating the murky waters of social media safely.
Real Stories, Real Impact
During their journey, these teen advocates met others like them.
Shira Cohen, 14, joined the fight after drowning in unrealistic beauty standards promoted online, significantly affecting her self-esteem.
Another team member, Angelina, wrote a public service announcement about body dysmorphia inspired by personal experiences and witnessing a friend’s battle against the perils of social media influence.
Zane Herndon, who faced body shaming online, and Adam Talasazan, a victim of cyberbullying, share a similar background, propelling them to work fervently on this initiative.
Creating a Ripple Effect with Educational Content
Under the guidance of librarian Emily Meehan, these spirited teens gathered one afternoon to consolidate their learning and create talking points for their campaign.
From promoting body positivity to urging users to stay “constantly on guard,” — the group sets an exemplary narrative for social media discourse.
To translate their learnings into actionable advice, they have created public service announcements that depict common scenarios youngsters face while navigating social media platforms.
Helping Peers Navigate the Social Media Maze
Understanding that completely abandoning social media is not the solution, these teens have worked tirelessly to offer peer-guided paths to healthier online habits.
In their presentation to families and friends, they touched upon sensitive topics such as body shaming and bullying while emphasizing the importance of standing up to such online harassment.
The teens stressed the necessity to “stay happy and healthy when using social media,” offering practical tips such as avoiding scrolling before bedtime and setting a limit on daily social media usage.
A Parents’ Perspective
Jerry Chow, a parent and an audience member at the presentation, shared the common dilemma parents face today: to monitor or deny their children access to social media. He expressed his happiness seeing young individuals take the lead in understanding and combating the negative effects of social media, something he did not have to grapple with in his youth.
The Journey Ahead
The initiative by the Teens Leading Change is a step towards more significant change.
This spark promises to ignite a wildfire of awareness and understanding regarding the healthy usage of social media.
With a focus on developing mindful habits around social media use, these teens are encouraging others to not just stay on guard but also use these platforms to counteract negativity and foster positivity.
As Emily Meehan pointed out, this project stands testament to the fact that the new generation, although deeply embedded in the digital landscape, is eager to carve out a healthier path, unwilling to let social media dictate the terms of their lives.
As we follow the journey of these remarkable teenagers, their unyielding spirit gives us hope, painting a future where social media is a tool for good, fostering healthy connections and nurturing positive self-images.
Let us stand by them, learn from their insights, and foster a healthier digital environment.