How students are using social media to change the world

Across the country, high school students are using Twitter and Instagram in positive ways

Social media has gotten a bad rap. I’ve read lots of articles calling it addictive, mind numbing, and a waste of time. And that’s before we even get into Facebook, data privacy, and Cambridge Analytica. But as the students-turned-activists at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, have discovered, when used properly, social media can help you make a difference.

The Parkland students have been using Twitter and other social platforms to mobilize teens (and adults) to fight for stricter gun laws. On March 14, thousands of students walked out of class to protest gun violence for National School Walkout Day. Most of those students heard about the walkout via social media; in fact, social media analytics firm Talkwalker counted more than 566,700 mentions of the walkout on social media.

On March 24, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered around the country for the March for Our Lives, an anti-gun march organized by many of the Parkland students. The #MarchforOurLives hashtag on Twitter registered more than two million social media posts in the 24 hours between March 23 and March 24, according to Talkwalker.

But the Parkland students aren’t the only ones using social media to do more than watch videos and memes. Across the country, high school students are figuring out other ways to use social media positively.

Helping students learn the power of words

Encouraged by Duke University’s “You Don’t Say” campaign, which highlights language used to marginalize people, students at Westwood High School (WHS) in Westwood, Mass., held a weeklong “Don’t Say WW” campaign.

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