One click. One share. One like on social media can send an individual into a spiral of spinning anxiety over their body, actions, and words. The damage social platforms cause to the minds and hearts of teenagers across the world is devastating and detrimental to the mental health of incoming generations. The vast impact of online websites and mobile apps is too great to contain with rules and regulations, so its harmful spread continues, infiltrating schools and communities. I propose we take a different path. I propose we develop a program to combat the evils created by social media and use it for good, all the while helping teenagers identify its hold on their lives and find a desire to change. My campaign is called Care to Share, and its goal is to utilize technology to benefit the classroom and encourage students to limit their usage outside of school.
Comfortable conversations are an aspect of society that has been depleted over years of incoming technology. Care to Share aims to build up practical social skills while aiding teens in being comfortable in their bodies and minds. During class, students are given a five-minute journal session at the beginning of class to write down immediate thoughts or worries just for themselves. I have noticed thoughts come into my mind in the hallways as I walk to class, and I never get to reflect on them because I am rushed into my classwork. Giving students this reflection time in a paper journal allows them to relax and become focused for class. In addition to this journal time, Care to Share small groups are available during study time or after school. Many schools have a study hall period or character-building class each day; for example, my school has an advisory time. Instead of a study hall, specially-trained teachers will host a small group for students form their own classes to come and talk about anything they need in a comfortable counseling session. These small groups will also have group chats on social media with the teacher included, so they can share things throughout their days with their groups. Care to Share is about inviting students to talk to others in an assertive way where they will not be judged for their problems or past actions. The small groups will become safe havens for students with mental health issues to release their feelings to others who feel the same way. I hope by organizing students into objectively random small groups, they will feel more comfortable sharing their experiences and difficulties.
Mental health awareness is the main goal of Care to Share because it is severely under addressed in schools worldwide. The Care to Share program will also have an app so the students can use it at home. It will have thought-stimulating questions and ways to record feelings and thoughts to be seen by the teacher of their small group, so students can reflect and be assisted by their teachers if individual conversations are needed. This app will encourage healthy discussion with classmates and promote limited social media usage. By allowing more human-to-human contact through small groups, Care to Share takes an assertive approach to helping students with mental health issues approach their problems head-on with help from people they trust. In students’ small groups the goal is for them to build each other up, to a point where they are not affected as greatly by the influences of social media. Using good-old conversation, students and teachers can remind each other about the importances of self-esteem and how social media lowers it. Care to Share is a program designed to build confidence and create strong, aware individuals who will do their part of building up, not tear down their peers using social media.
Care to Share would require a lot of work, but it is very possible to execute. The trained teachers would be selected by the schools, so they are highly-involved and respected by the students. At my school, many teachers already have “counseling” sessions with students, so the small group would be similar. The Care to Share app would be the most difficult part of the project, but with the right resources it would be possible. To encourage student involvement, programming class and robotics teams from many different schools could work together to create the student-friendly “social media” app to promote mental health awareness. The journal time would need to be implemented by the teachers, under the direction of the administration, so each classroom was getting their respective time. With these small changes, the incredible impact of Care to Share would be kickstarted.
With this program, students across the world could be touched by the Care to Share as they learn to open themselves up and confront their challenges. United together, even children from an elementary age can learn to be confident in themselves and listen respectfully to others. I believe in this program, and its ability to promote change in our school systems. With the right care, individuals will learn to share using positive social media.