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Twitter Reaches Out to Help Young People

12 April 2017 at 4:58 pm
Wendy Williams
A not for profit is using social media to stop young people feeling overwhelmed and disconnected by a relentless 24/7 news cycle and help them deal with tragic world events and divisive online conversations.

Wendy Williams | 12 April 2017 at 4:58 pm


Twitter Reaches Out to Help Young People
12 April 2017 at 4:58 pm

A not for profit is using social media to stop young people feeling overwhelmed and disconnected by a relentless 24/7 news cycle and help them deal with tragic world events and divisive online conversations.

Digital youth mental health service ReachOut has teamed up with Twitter to develop digital resources that can help young people navigate the increasing amounts of sometimes upsetting and confusing content that is shared online.

Twitter has funded ReachOut to develop content that can be shared on social media and will encourage young people to understand the anger or sadness they may be feeling, understand negative debates around racism and sexism, encourage them to switch off if necessary, and take positive action.

ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said it was important to empower young people living in an age of digital communications to navigate these issues.

“We’re more connected than ever, which has so many positives; however, sometimes it feels like we are bombarded with negative world news like natural disasters or terrorist attacks every time we look at our phones,” Nicholas said.

“ReachOut has been a trusted service of young people for over 18 years for things that are going on in their life like exam stress, relationship issues, bullying or trouble at home. In recent years however we’ve noticed that negative world news, as well as the divisive and often polarising conversations online and on social media, can be distressing for young people even though they may not have a personal connection with the event or conversation.

“It’s important that we empower young people with the skills to navigate these issues; understand why they are affected; recognise when they need to switch off; and generate positive outlets for any feelings of anger or sadness.

“It’s also a way that we can deliver support to young people in the settings they are already comfortable using, such as social media, rather than relying on them having to come to a service for help.

As part of the partnership they have developed new factsheets covering topics including: dealing with bad world news, understanding terrorism, what’s the deal with political correctness, why cultural appropriation isn’t cool, what is racism and how to spot it, and five seemingly harmless things that are actually sexist.

Some of the tips being offered for young people to help them deal with bad world news include:

  • Learn to switch off – most of us see news on social media, so taking a break can help. Spend the time you would have spent online doing something you enjoy offline like seeing friends, reading books or playing video games.
  • Try to understand why some news is upsetting you – if what you’re feeling is more than empathy for people going through tragedy, it might be worth talking to someone you trust about how the news is affecting you.
  • Accept your level of control. Bad news can make us feel helpless. Understand that while there are usually things, big and small, that a person can do to help a situation, we can’t stop it entirely on our own.

Head of public policy for Twitter Australia Kara Hinesley said they hoped the partnership with ReachOut would give young people constructive management techniques to cope with difficult world events.

“Twitter is the place where people go when they want to know what’s happening in the world,” Hinesley said.

“As we become increasingly interconnected, it’s essential that we help young people feel like they’re able to process feelings of loss or grief.

“Through the fact sheets we’ve developed in partnership with ReachOut, we’re helping young Australians equip themselves with the tools they need to deal with difficult events that occur around the world and create constructive management techniques to cope with these feelings.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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