#ICANHELP is a program designed to educate and empower young people and adults to use social media positively by providing necessary tools and framework to guide and support young people in developing their authentic online presence and personal identity. #ICANHELP is a non-profit founded by former teachers Kim Karr and Matt Soeth because of major issues they saw with social media. Through their endeavors #ICANHELP has trained over 400,000 students to be #digitalfirstresponders.
#ICANHELP began when a student created a fake Facebook page ‘for’ a teacher at the school where Kim was teaching. When she asked her students why this happened they told her it was because they didn’t like the teacher. This fake account had about a thousand followers and the page was up for about two weeks. Finally a student came to Kim, who was afraid to originally say anything, because he thought he would be made fun of for going to an adult for help.
I had to flat out tell him, you probably will get made fun of
Kim said, “I had to flat out tell him, you probably will get made fun of but you will find out who your real friends are and who your friends aren’t” Kim went one step further and asked her students what they liked about this teacher and as they realized what they did like about this teacher they began to support the teacher.
A year later a fake Instagram account was made of the same teacher and this time it had zero followers and was taken down in 40 minutes. The reason for this quick response was because the students began posting comments that they were not okay with the account and that they were letting school administration know about the fake account.
The students came up with #ICANHELP as an easy way to comment on posts that are inappropriate. Kim and Matt can’t see a hashtag but if the students tag @icanhelpofficial on Instagram, Facebook, or Youtube Kim and Matt receive a notification and know that a student is asking for help.
#ICANHELP is an official trusted site and when they report to a social media company an inappropriate post or fake account they get the immediate help they need in taking down the post or account. To date and because students are empowered to make positive change, over 900 accounts or posts have been taken down.
#ICANHELP also comes alongside parents with resources to help parents help keep their kids safe on social media. Listed are 8 guidelines #ICANHELP encourages parents to follow.
- Follow/friend your child on ANY social media sites they use.
- Go over, on a regular basis, what information should NOT be shared online/over text.
- Know your child’s passwords on all devices and all social media accounts.
- Monitor your child’s mobile phone use and text messages on a regular basis.
- Check the privacy, security and GPS settings on your child’s phone and social media accounts.
- Talk to your child about who they friend on social media.
- Talk about what a negative or inappropriate comment, picture or post is.
- Explain to them that not everyone uses social media for fun.
Kim and I talked about the effects of social media in the mental health of young people.
Mental health has definitely skyrocketed since any kind of smart device has come out.
She stated, “Mental health has definitely skyrocketed since any kind of smart device has come out. Anxiety and depression have increased 37% and suicides have increased 200% in 10 to 14 year old children.
A national survey of children’s health also found
- One in five kids has a mental illness.
- A 43% increase in ADHD.
- 5.4 million students skip school sometime in the year due to unkind behavior – increasing number of teens report perceived unkind social media posts as reason to miss school. (SAFE cyberbullying Research Center).
Navigating social media responsibly and positively can be daunting, so every year #ICANHELP hosts the #digital4good day which recognizes kids and young adults from the ages of 8-25 for the good they are doing on social media. In previous years #ICANHELP recognized a young lady who is a gamer and experienced cyber bullying because she is a girl so she created comic book on how to act while playing video games. And two girls at Bristow Middle School in Brentwood, CA (NORCAL) started a page titled Bristow Compliments giving shout-outs to other students. This page is in its fourth year and is handed down each year to other students who want to carry on #ICANHELP.
#ICANHELP also has partnerships with several companies including Google, Face Book, Twitter, Instagram and After School App, however, they’re current and only source of funding comes from the school districts that have them come in and train teachers, counselors, administration and parent workshops. #ICANHELP’s goal is for more companies and agencies to partner with them financially as they continue to help resource and empower young people and adults about social media etiquette.
Additionally, #ICANHELP partners with MLB’s Aaron Judge of the NY Yankees. Kim says, “Both Aaron’s parents were educators from Lindon. He was excited we were something local, positive & tied to education. Both Matt & I were educators and college athletes so it is just a perfect fit.”
NorCal, SF Giants and NY Yankees fans you have a unique opportunity to learn more about #ICANHELP on April 26th at Adobe Park at 4:30pm where #ICANHELP will host an event sharing opportunities to partner with them. After this event everyone will head over to the game and as Kim says, “Cheer on Aaron Judge and of course SF Giants.”
#ICANHELP #YOUCANHELP #WILLYOU?
To learn more about #ICANHELP and how #YOUCANHELP please visit them at:
*all photos courtesy of #ICANHELP and used with permission.