Social Media: Why It Matters for Children's Mental Health


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This webinar from Brittany Smith, Director of Community Management for the Children's Mental Health Network, will focus on why social media is important for the children's mental health world and will provide data as to who is using social media and how, why it matters, and what impact it can have on the field of children's mental health. Attendees will walk away with data and language they can use to then persuade others in their organizations, community and system of care efforts to use social media, and give it the time and energy that's required to use it successfully.

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  • The Children’s Mental Health Network is a national alliance between communities, practitioners, families, agencies, alumni of system of care communities, and individuals that seek to share information, keep in touch, advocate for children’s mental health issues, and offer experience-based consultation and education to those interested in promoting the system of care concept. We are a collection of professionals, parents and young people from across the United States committed to finding solutions that work. To learn more about us visit our website at I’m going to talk to you today about why social media is important for the children's mental health field, who is using social media and how, why it matters, and what impact it can have for you in your work.
  • Social media is powerful because it allows us to have transparency and accountability in a way we’ve never had before, in particular with large corporations and government agencies. We can now publicly state our opinion, whether positive or negative and in a lot of cases it gets taken seriously. Because the conversations are public these large organizations are forced to respond, and to listen. Social media allows us to take our environment and shape it in a way that I find empowering and exciting. Additionally, social media and the internet gives us access to information, in particular about our health, so that we can make better decisions and get help and support when we need it.
  • Regardless of your personal feelings about social media, it’s reaching a significant portion of the population and is here to stay, so it’s worth learning about.My goal is to share my passion about social media with you so that you go home and feel inspired to explore this technology, and feel empowered to begin using it in your professional life to better serve the youth, families, and communities you work with.The most important thing to take away from this training is that social media deserves your time and energy. Take it seriously because it can further your ability to meet the needs of the youth and families you serve. If you want to reach this audience, social media is a very effective way to do that because Americans spend so much of their time online and, in particular, on social networking sites. So dive in!
  • Now I want to talk a little bit about why people use social media. There are a lot reasons people join social networking sites including to connect with family and friends, to meet new people, and to connect with others that have shared interests and hobbies. What research from the Pew Internet and American Life Projects show us however, is that the predominant reason people use social media is to further their close offline relationships.Adult internet users that also use social media say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies. In addition, adults generally have positive experiences online. When social networking users were asked for one word to describe their experiences using social networking sites, “good” was the most common response (as seen in this word cloud).So people join to stay connected and continue to use social media because of the positive experiences they have. On the next slide we’ll go over some of those positive benefits.
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American.Facebook users have more social support, and they are much more politically engaged compared with Americans of a similar age and education. Young adults who spend more time on Facebook than their peers are also better at showing "virtual empathy" to their online friends and such online empathy predicts real-world empathy. In addition, in a study of 63 Cornell University undergraduates, researchers found that people reported higher self-esteem after spending time on their Facebook profile than after time spent looking into a mirror (Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, 2011). "Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does not match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves," says Cornell communications professor Jeffrey Hancock, PhD, one of the study's co-authors. "We're not saying that it's a deceptive version of self, but it's a positive one.” From my perspective these positive benefits are astounding. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, this list goes on and on and you can see more of these benefits in the resource. However, I’m not trying to underplay some of the negative things that can and do happen on social media sites, in particular for young people.
  • Let’s touch on some of those negative assumptions that you might have about social media, in particular as it relates to young people. Too much time spent online does lead to negative well-being. You can see on this slide a lot the reasons that people are resistant to social media, in particular when it comes to youth and young adults. However, the research shows that a lot of our negative assumptions about social media, the internet, and technology are unfounded. Holly Schiffrin, a psychology professor at the University of Mary Washington says,"I definitely think that technology can be used to build and maintain in-person relations, but it's not a satisfactory substitute for in-person relationships.” Additionally, parents can do a lot to ensure that youth use social media safely and strategically so that it contributes to the development of close social ties. The bottom line is that before you go around knocking social media, you’ve got to give it a try. So between now and next month’s webinar get on social media and start being more intentional in how you use it.
  • One of the other negative things that I hear people bring up a lot related to social media is what’s called the “digital divide.” Historically, certain populations have had less access to new technology and it has been to their and our detriment as a society. The good news about the internet and social media is that this divide issteadily shrinking as it relates to race and ethnicity. The research has found that: Ultimately, neither race nor gender are themselves part of the story of digital differences in its current form. Instead, age (being 65 or older), a lack of a high school education, and having a low household income (less than $20,000 per year) are the strongest negative predictors for internet use.There are currently no major differences in overall social networking site usage by gender, race, or household income. However, minority populations do have less access to broadband in their homes, and this means that they are accessing the internet primarily on mobile devices such as smartphones. So from a cultural and linguistic competence perspective, it’s important to optimize your content for mobile devices if you want to reach this population. Also, it’s worth noting that certain populations do use certain social media platforms at higher rates. I’ll go into this in more detail in the next slides as I map out the different social media platforms.
  • Let’s start with Facebook, by far the most popular social media platform both in terms of number of users, and how frequently people log on and use Facebook. Facebook is an important platform to utilize if you’re trying to connect with youth and families.
  • Twitter, on the other hand, would not be the best platform to use to reach that population. Twitter is used primarily by young professionals to discuss current, real-time issues including world events and business-related topics. It’s a great avenue for what’s called business to business marketing, or what the social sector might call partnerships. In particular, Twitter is a great place to reach the black community. More than one quarter of online African-Americans (28%) use Twitter, with 13% doing so on a typical day. In contrast, only 12% of white online adults use Twitter.
  • LinkedIn is a great platform for reaching other professionals. LinkedIn is used primarily by older, male professionals to market themselves.
  • YouTube is a powerful platform because it allows us to tell stories. Also, YouTube is an important way to reach the rural population and minority populations.
  • Social media is important because it will allow you to better meet the needs of the youth, families, and communities you serve. You’re meeting them where they’re already spending time and giving them the opportunity to have a relationship with you that’s founded upon transparency and mutual empowerment. Social media is a place where people go to connect, feel good about themselves, and learn about their world, and therefore it behooves you to meet them in that space and encourage their relationships with the people that provide them with support.
  • Social Media: Why It Matters for Children's Mental Health

    1. 1. WHY YOU SHOULDCARE ABOUT SOCIALMEDIA Brittany Smith Director of Community Management
    2. 2. What is Social Media? Any online platform or channel for publishing and disseminating user-generated content.1 Social media allows us to engage with and empower our communities.  Connection  Access to information1.
    3. 3. Take it seriously! Social media is widespread.  95% of all teens ages  In the U.S., social 12-17 are online and networks and blogs 80% of those teens reach nearly 80% use social media. 3 of Internet users and represents the majority of Americans’ time online. 1 Half of all American adults are using social networking1. sites. 2 other-social-networks3.
    4. 4. It’s About Relationships Connections with family and friends is the primary reason.  2/3 say staying in touch is a major reason they use these sites.1 Most online adults describe their experiences using social media in positive terms.21.
    5. 5. Positive Benefits The average user has  People report higher more close ties and is self-esteem after ½ as likely to be spending time on socially isolated.1 Facebook.3 Young adults who  Facebook users are spend more time on more trusting, have Facebook are better at more social showing “virtual support, and are much empathy.”2 more politically engaged.41.
    6. 6. Why the negative assumptions? “Moral panic is a  Before you knock common reaction to it, give it a try. new forms of  Pay attention to what communication.”1 you experience. Fears:  Do you feel more or  Less face-to-face time less connected?  Cyberbullying  Share it with me!  Isolation  Dangerous people  Less community engagement1.
    7. 7. Digital Divide Age, lack of a high school education, and low household income are the strongest negative predictors of internet usage. 1 No major differences in social media usage based on gender, race, or household income.21. Ibid
    8. 8. Facebook There are currently  The fastest growing 901 million active group of Facebook users on Facebook.1 users are over 65 Facebook reaches years old.4 almost 57% of the U.S. population.2 The majority of Facebook users are female.31. myspace3. analysis
    9. 9. Twitter Twitter has nearly 200  Nearly 15%of U.S. million users.1 adults who are online The average user is use Twitter.4 39 years old.2 More than ¼ of online African-Americans (28%) use Twitter, 13% do so on a typical day.31. Ibid
    10. 10. LinkedIn LinkedIn has over 120  59% of users are million users.1 male.4 The average user age is 44 years old.2 92% of journalists have a LinkedIn account because it helps them easily connect with sources.31. 2011 Arketi Web Watch Media Survey,
    11. 11. YouTube Nearly half of YouTube  Non-white adult users are 25-44 years Internet users have old.1 higher rates of using Rural Internet users video-sharing sites.3 are now just as likely as users in urban and suburban areas to have used online video-sharing websites like YouTube.11. Ignite Social Media, 2011 Social Network Analysis Report. media-stats/2011-social-network-analysis-report/2. Ibid
    12. 12. Bringing it together. Social media will  Goals: allow you to better  Position yourself as meet the needs of a resource and those you serve. support.  Connection  Encourage them to  Empowerment connect positively with others.  Transparency  Provide accurate  Accountability information. Meet them where they’re at.
    13. 13. Next Steps Do some research. Get online and play.  Payattention to what you experience. Share the knowledge! Connect with me on social media. Register for next month’s webinar.
    14. 14. Contact