Social Media: Benefiting the social good

It really is a week of Days to Celebrate Things, isn’t it? Today is National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, but tomorrow – tomorrow is my daughter’s tenth birthday, and if that isn’t something amazing to celebrate I don’t know what is!
But back to today. (Stay in the moment, Karen!)
Living in Texas I have a soft spot for all things Latino. The language, the culture, the food, the music, the dancing – it’s all fantastic. So I jumped into reading about NLAAD and here’s what I discovered: SO MANY AWESOME GRAPHICS. Good graphics are another thing I love. Here are my favorites, linked to the organizations that produced them:

I learned so much more about this day – about the ways that HIV influences the Latino population – because of these engaging graphics. And this reminded me of a lesson from Sex Ed in the Digital Age, not about HIV or AIDS, but about how stories are told and repeated on the Internet.

By Hannah M. Priest, Christine L. Hackman, & Sarah E. Rush
By the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:
  1. Explain why advocating for an inclusive school environment for students that identify as LGBTQ, is necessary and important.
  2. Describe two or more technology-based strategies to promote an inclusive school environment for students that identify as LGBTQ.
  3. Implement one innovative, technology-based strategy to promote an inclusive school environment for LGBTQ students.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth face substantial adversity in today’s society, one which favors heterosexuality, demonizes other sexual identities and forms of sexual expression, and shames gender non-confirming characteristics.1 Identifying as LGBT is associated with a higher risk of harassment and discrimination victimization, which can lead to unhealthy coping and the pursuit of risky behaviors. A healthy school environment intentionally promotes an inclusive and positive emotional climate where students feel accepted, supported, and involved, regardless of differences. A recent national study found that students involved in an intentionally inclusive environment were more likely to report that they felt more connected to their student community and that their peers were somewhat or very accepting of LGBT individuals.
Project based learning is a student-centered instructional technique that requires students to think critically, problem solve, and collaborate. This technique involves opportunities for revision and deeper reflection on the topic. By utilizing accessible technology, students will work in groups to develop and implement a creative strategy that will be used to promote an inclusive school environment for LGBTQ students.
While it’s true, yes, that social media can be used for harm, it is also true that social media can (and is!) used for good. I love that this lesson focuses on the good that can come when young people sit down to that purpose. It reminds me of this video and this group – both social and digital outlets created for and by teens.
What I like most about this approach is that it’s integrating creativity and art (both of which are deeply embedded in the social media process) and pointing towards a social good rather than a social null. There is so much possibility in digital media – both in the possibilities of what can be created and in the potential reach of the message. So let’s celebrate that!
Happy National Latino AIDS Awareness Day everyone! Let’s follow through and continue to do the work we all know needs doing to reduce continued spread of HIV, to increase the lifespan and quality of life for those living with HIV, and to reduce the stigma that comes with HIV diagnosis so that it’s easier for everyone to talk about.