In recent years Americans accessibility of technology has increased. Cameras and camcorders are now connected to cell phones. Social media sites allow people to quickly record events and share them with ease. These events include fights that often times take place in schools. These aggressive events first garnered national news when 6 teenagers ages 14-18 in Lakeland, Fl. repeatedly assaulted beat their peer for sharing posting negative comments about them on MySpace while two other teens recorded the incident. This story gained national attention when the video was shared on Facebook and YouTube. The victim suffered a concussion, visual impairments, cuts, bruises and auditory problems. All of the attackers were convicted; some serving prison sentences while others received probation. Now fight videos are extremely popular among teens and young adults. Websites like Worldstarhiphop perpetuate aggressive videos, they compose their “Fight comp of the week,” a compilation of popular videos of people fighting during the week and views often times exceed 2 and 3 million watchers. Twitter handle “@30secondfights” currently has over 700,000 followers and is one of many pages that cater to sharing violent content. Many of the violent videos uploaded onto these web pages come from New Orleans and Baton Rouge schools.
The goal of Project Positive Social Media is to persuade teens not to engage in aggressive behavior on and offline and to contact the proper authorities when aggressive situations occur instead of recording them. We also hope to reduce the amount of violent content students watch and share online. We reached students by:
- Engaging in discussion with students about the negative consequences of interacting with violent media.
- Sharing interviews and news stories highlighting the negative effects via social media and during physical interaction with students.
- Interviewing hiring professionals and detail the importance they give to hiring people with positive social media pages.
- Interacting with students online to understand how they feel about negative social media content.
Our Program primarily utilized Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Our initial goal was to the reach 500 followers between the three pages. When we extended our program into two semesters, we increased our goal to 1,000 followers between the three pages. We exceeded our goal by 100 followers and the number is steadily increasing.
Facebook received the least amount of followers, Twitter received the second most while Instagram received the most. Facebook received the least because this was a form of simply disseminating information with n two-way communication. Majority of our Facebook likes were from parents. Twitter received the second most followers because it allowed students to engage in discussion with one another. Instagram received the most followers because it allowed students to be featured on our page. Students were specifically excited about our IPhone 7 replicas featuring the Project Positive Social media logo. We were also able to teach students social media analytics.
Social media analytics helped us analyze the amount of engagement we received on our post. Our post reached over 10,000 people combined.
We interacted with students in Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Detroit. These are three cities with high crime rates and a large percentage of at-risk youth. We reached more than 300 students by visiting schools including Scotlandville High School in Baton Rouge and George Washington Carver High School in New Orleans.
We also partnered with organizations like the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to share our information with children and teens who were a part of established youth outreach programs. We shared information with over 100 youth with this partnership. We were also able to receive expert advice from these organizations
Overall, this project was a success! not only were we able to meet our goals but we also met some very smart and outgoing teens that gave awesome input on how to improve the program. Thank you Steve Buttry and the Knight foundation for this wonderful opportunity. We plan to continue this project even after funding from the Knight Foundation ceases. We’ve helped hundreds of students understand the consequences of interacting with violent content online and that was our goal!