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How Youth Are Spreading Positive Changes Through Online Platforms

by Miranda Murphy, a Self-Reg Foundations & Facilitator’s Certificate Program alumni

Throughout my 35 year teaching career, I witnessed adverse changes in the behaviour and mental health of children and teens, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years.

When searching for causes, these changes seem to have coincided with the more widespread use of online and social media platforms. Today’s youth seem to be immersed in a sea of all kinds of pressure: conflicting messages, manipulative marketing strategies, information overload and malicious misinformation–troubles which play havoc with their still underdeveloped blue brain. Nevertheless, despite all the problems and negativity in the world today, I am hopeful. Maybe it’s just my nature, but I feel that there are small beacons of light shining all around us. Grassroots movements are springing up everywhere, powered by younger folks. They have a tool – online media platforms – which gives them an advantage in organizing their movement, spreading their message, and rallying support. The clever use of social media to broadcast ideas, gather global and local support and organize protests and boycotts, has given today’s youth an influential role in effecting change.

Social media tools are not bad per se; rather it is the way we use them that yields positive or negative outcomes. These tools have the power to divide or to unite, and although some are using social to spread discord, numerous wonderful people use it to help others, spread harmony and solidarity and bring about positive change. Some examples include movements such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too, The School Strike for Climate in 2019, Tik Tok’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Warriors, along with activists such as Greta Thunberg, Licypriya Kangujam, David Hogg and Autumn Peltier.

Considering that the internet is merely a tool, we need to focus on the individual, on what is behind their choices and actions. Through an awareness of the forces (stressors) acting upon each one of us, we can tap into our understanding of Self-Reg to manage our interactions with these tools, potentially optimizing their use for personal wellness and the greater good. Many agents of change already understand the value of social media platforms and their power to promote growth. When I turn my gaze from all the negativities that engulf us to some of the more positive and uplifting work being done by today’s youth, I feel a spark of optimism. Personally, besides doing what I can within my very small circle of influence to address the many matters that afflict the world today, most of all I feel that by spreading the Self-Reg message I can sow hope and bring about small but concrete changes for myself and those around me. Despite all the problems my optimism remains, and Self-Reg is a big part of it!


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