If you saw a post on Twitter that read, "How to Get 500 Followers in Two Hours," you'd probably write it off as the empty promise of a marketer. But you might be wrong.
After hearing about a friend who had taken his life while away at school, a Utah teen made an anonymous account on Twitter to post compliments to friends of friends. Within a couple of hours, @801compliments had attracted close to 500 followers.
"I just don't want people to feel like they're alone," the 15-year-old said, who also happens to be my daughter. While the rest of us were in shock, she took action with the social media tools that have become an integral part of her life. [See also: How to Use Instagram Like a 15-Year-Old Girl ]
And, the next day, five new accounts using variations of the same name had begun doing the same thing. "So many people are down in the dumps right now and they just need a little pick me up," the teen behind spinoff @goodthingsslc told TechNewsDaily. "I myself have been really sad this year and this is a way to stop focusing on myself and helping others feel better about themselves!"
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people between ages 10 and 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 4,600 who die each year, 81 percent are boys and 19 percent are girls.
Although we frequently hear about the negative effects of social media, such as cyberbullying , on teens, research often shows a positive effect. In a study of 600 Australian teens, the Cooperative Research Centre for Young People, Technology and Wellbeing, found that the strong sense of community and belonging fostered by social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, have the potential to promote resilience, which helps young people successfully adapt to change and stressful events.
Paying compliments online can help others and make the giver feel better at the same time. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation recommends giving at least five compliments a day. The key is sincerity. As you're scrolling through your Twitter, Facebook or Instagram feed, stop to recognize a great smile or let the person know their post made you smile.
Because when you stop and look around, this life & the people in it are amazing ❤ — Good Things Slc (@goodthingsslc) May 3, 2013