9 Fantastic Social Media Advocacy Campaigns for Teens
Social media may not always be a distraction for teens. It can serve as a wonderful way to get your entire classroom rallied behind a cause, just like Marley did in Where's My Story?. Using social media in the classroom teaches the importance of healthy digital citizenship and advocacy. Plus, social media campaigns are free and accessible to students, and can help teens understand advocacy by supporting ideas they believe in. Be sure to check out the ADVOCACY IN ACTION activity (on page T7 of our January Teaching Guide) and the accompanying #ADVOCACY handout for ways to get teens active in advocating for issues they believe in.
Here are some great advocacy campaigns for students to support:
Started by Tumblr, Post It Forward is a social media campaign that is all about getting rid of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety. Students can get involved by making a Post It Forward gif or video. Remind teens to use the hashtag #postiforward so others can interact with their posts. For encouragement and inspiration, have students check out the Post It Forward Mental Health Quilt.
#GimmeFive is a hashtag started by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Let's Move campaign to get kids and teens active during the day. Teens can tag #GimmeFive whenever they get moving--from going on a walk or run to planting a garden in their backyard--and advocate for healthier living. (Psst: Our zombie-themed workout is a fun way to get teens pumped about exercise...and ready to survive the apocalypse!)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline uses the hashtag #BeThe1To to encourage support of suicide prevention. Students can use the hashtag #BeThe1To as a way to share how they would help a friend in crisis. Some examples are: #BeThe1To ask, #BeThe1To keep them safe, and #BeThe1To be there. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's site also lists real-life stories of recovery that can inspire teens.
#WeWearWhatWeWant is a hashtag all about body positivity and being comfortable in your own skin, no matter your size. This campaign will encourage teens to embrace their body just how it is. Backing a similar cause, #PerfectlyMe encourages body positivity in teensto boost confidence and bolster a positive body image. From teen amputees and eating disorder survivors, to teens embracing the word "chubby," this campaign offerers something for all students to rally behind.
Marley Dias, who is this month's Choices Changemaker, started her campaign #1000BlackGirlBooks, when she noticed that most of the books she read in school were about white boys and their dogs. Marley realized that she didn't see girls like herself in many books, and set out to collect 1000 books featuring black girls to donate to school libraries. Since her campaign began, Marley has exceeded her goal and collected over 4,000 books.
#HeForShe is a social media campaign created by UN Women to help men and boys advocate for women's rights. Participating with the hashtag #HeForShe will encourage teens to stand together and help them understand the importance gender equality. (For teaching tools on gender identity and equality, be sure to check out this recent Choices story.)
Together Possible is a campaign started by the World Wildlife Fund that's all about working together in unity to protect the things that help us survive, like forests, wildlife, energy, and water. This campaign presents a great opportunity to teach teens about the values of conservation and why things like renewable energy and sustainability matter. Teens can use the hashtag #togetherpossible on Twitter to join the conversation.
If your dog destroys your furniture, you forgive him, but not if it's your partner. OneLove, an organization that fights dating abuse, created this campaign to help teens understand what dating abuse looks like--and why it isn't acceptable. Teens can go to the campaign site and create memes to share online using the hashtag #OKforpetsnotpartners.
Distracted driving is a problem for everyone, but it especially affects teens. The #ItCanWait campaign seeks to empower students to to put their phones away while driving--nd encourages teens (and adults!) to share the message that distracted driving needs to stop now. Use this campaign with our story Danger Behind the Wheel to facilitate a lifesaving discussion with students.
Turning Inspiration Into Action:
It's easy for students to get involved in pre-existing campaigns, but what if a student wants to initiate his or her own advocacy campaign? Here are some ways to empower students to start their own campaigns, online or IRL:
- Discuss advocacy and help students learn what it means to stand up for others and support issues they believe in.
- DoSomething.org is a site that allows students to support their own advocacy campaign by starting an existing initiative at school, with friends, or on social media.
- Even if students aren't ready to start their own campaign, encourage them to make a list of advocacy campaign ideas or things they would like to see happen. It can be as simple as going with a group of friends to donate unwanted items to a charity, or as complex as starting a competition to see which class can collect the most canned goods.
- Some students may be interested in digital campaigns, like starting their own hashtag in support of an issue they feel strongly about. Have students brainstorm hashtag ideas to advocate for issues that matter to them.
- Some students may want to voice their opinions. Encourage teens to set up their own blog or social media account to make their voice heard.
- Empower students with the resources they need to create their own clubs and groups at school.
Help From the Choices Archive:
- While it does not specifically focus on advocacy, The Real Social Media Stars will introduce students to teens who are sharing their passions and sharpening their talents through thoughtful, focused social media accounts.
- In 15 & Famous, we profile three incredible teen bloggers who have used blogging or vlogging to share their thoughts with the world.
- Get your students involved in this inspiring self-advocacy campaign--called #FirstTuesdaysStudentsSpeak--which was started by a group of teachers in California after the presidential election in November.