According to Merriam-Webster, activism is “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue.” This used to mean actually having to meet with other people who believe the same thing as you, meeting with someone who has a direct line to change something, or trying to persuade others to rally around your cause, one way or another. Now it is as easy as a few keystrokes and a click to get people to notice. With this ease and many young adults with the ability I believe that students need to be taught how to be effective Digital Activist from a young age.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” The great Stan Lee said that in his Spiderman comic books about Peter Parker. I think that this was a fantastic quote that can be applied to so many aspects of life, about Digital Activism. Driving the fact that what students put online and what they stand for does have an effect on others should be a base for anything you are teaching. I found a couple of really great examples of young people doing great things through Digital Activism.
Bill Ferriter has an amazing article about how he encouraged his class to make blog posts about the added sugar in foods that teens eat. He talks about how proud he is of his students for writing nearly 40 blog posts in a little over a month. His way of encouraging students to write a blog post is simple, pick a food, go to a food database for statistics, make an interesting info graph, and have a witty 3-4 sentence part. Unsurprisingly the posts take little time and his students love to make them, creating a constant flow of kids ready to create new content. This type of Digital Activism is showing the students that they have a very powerful voice and can help others with the knowledge that they have gained.
One very successful Digital Activism project is called Buddy Project. Buddy Project was created by Gabby Frost, a 16 year-old girl who saw a problem on Twitter and decided to take a stand. Her non-profit is dedicated to mental health and making sure everyone has someone to talk to. When she started her twitter account to help others she didn’t expect much but suddenly she had over 2,000 people reaching out to her for help. She matches people based on a few mutual interest that they share so that way no one feels alone and always has someone to talk to, no matter how far away they are.