PHOENIX — A non-profit is hoping to inspire teens to use social media as a space for good by showing them how to incorporate the online world into something positive.
#ICANHELP has been working to give schools, teachers, students, and parents the tools to combat negativity.
The hashtag of “I can help” empowers youth to use the internet as a safe space by finding ways to empower others, rather than tear them down. The organization is a space for students to report negative interactions on social media like bullying, harassment, or people using different platforms to shame other teens. #ICANHELP uses digital first responders to help kids report and block negative interactions that could impact students’ mental health.
To promote digital wellness, the group focuses on going inside schools to promote a more positive online experience.
ABC15 spoke with a Chaparral High School graduate who created an anonymous social media account that gave random compliments to students.
Alexa Negrete volunteers with #ICANHELP and is helping run the internship program. She recalls the impacts the internet had on her classmates, including someone who committed suicide.
“A lot of schools begin to have these mental health conversations after a suicide has already taken place in their school or in their community, but really we need to have those conversations before,” she said.
Negrete said they provide curriculum on different topics from how to deal with stress, how to find resources when it comes to mental health, and ways to be more positive online.
#ICANHELP says they have nearly 200 student interns and volunteers across 27 states in the US and nine other countries.
“Members of the team are entrusted with the responsibility of not only helping to build #ICANHELP, but being role models and a part of the solution to negativity online. Seasonal and annual interns meet with their teams weekly for guidance and collaboration on different projects,” the organization said.