PHOENIX – A nonprofit organization hopes to inspire teens to use social media as a space for good by showing them how to integrate the online world into something positive.
#ICANHELP has worked to give schools, teachers, students and parents the tools to fight negativity.
The “I can help” hashtag empowers young people to use the internet as a safe space by finding ways to empower others, rather than bring them down. The organization is a space for students to report negative social media interactions like bullying, harassment, or people using different platforms to shame other teens. #ICANHELP uses digital first responders to help children report and block negative interactions that could impact students’ mental health.
To promote digital wellbeing, the group is focusing on in-school tours to promote a more positive online experience.
ABC15 spoke with a Chaparral High School graduate who created an anonymous social media account that gave students random compliments.
Alexa Negrete volunteers with #ICANHELP and helps run the internship program. She remembers the impacts of the internet on her classmates, including someone who committed suicide.
“A lot of schools start having these conversations about mental health after a suicide has already happened in their school or in their community, but we really need to have these conversations first,” she said.
Negrete said they offer programs on different topics, such as managing stress, finding mental health resources, and ways to be more positive online.
#ICANHELP says they have nearly 200 student interns and volunteers in 27 states in the US and nine other countries.
“Team members have a responsibility to not only help build #ICANHELP, but also to be role models and part of the solution to online negativity. Seasonal and annual interns meet with their teams weekly for advice and collaboration on different projects,” the organization said.