Young Girl on Phone
Tech Savvy Parent
Brian Housman author
Brave enough to stop clicking text

veryday my inbox is populated with an increasing number of articles and news stories of teenagers getting themselves in trouble with technology. Whether it’s the middle school girl sending sexually inappropriate pictures of herself to others or the group of high schoolers that bullied a classmate into taking their life, it’s enough to make any parent want to take away every screen in their teenagers’ lives. But as with any issue in teen culture, the bad news always screams louder than the good. It’s easy to lose perspective when we don’t hear of the teenagers that are making a difference.

There are a great many teenagers out there who are leading among their peers to bring about social change, and their primary megaphone is social media. When Julia Warren from Richmond, VA, was sixteen years old, her heart was burdened by the number of young children in her community who lived in perpetual sadness. She considered ways that she might be able to bring a small ray of light into their lives. After six months of playing around with different ideas, she landed on the one thing she thought every child deserves—a birthday party.

Julia began to share her idea with school friends. She talked about it on Facebook and Twitter. She shared ideas on Instagram. She researched social reform online. Soon after she launched Celebrate! RVA to let children be children through the simple joy of a birthday party. Over the last three years Julia and Celebrate! RVA have impacted the lives of more than 2,500 children by giving them one day to be the center of attention. As she has shared her experiences with others online, Celebrate! RVA has grown to more than 400 volunteers (think teenagers) who are partnering with Julia.

Julia is just one of many teenagers using social media and the web to share the gifts God has given them to change others’ lives. Wouldn’t it be great to add your teen’s name to that list of world-changers? People make a difference when they see others making a difference. Model to your child what it means to lead online by doing it yourself. Share stories about the things that are important to you. Inspire your child by talking about making a difference, giving them ideas of how they can lead in their community as well. There are a few ideas below to show your teen how they can impact others. Cut out the list and tape it to your teen’s mirror.

Five Ways You as a Teen Can Live Boldly
1. Share Your Experience:
Talk about the last volunteer opportunity you had or service trip you went on. Go to Instagram and share the pictures of yourself in action. Your experience can inspire others to action.
2. Create a #Hashtag:
If you have an upcoming service opportunity or a cause that is important to you, start a hashtag about it. Ask your friends and classmates to use the hashtag.
3. Raise Awareness of a Cause:
Use your social media accounts to talk about the causes that are important to you. It doesn’t matter whether you are a celebrity or not. Your voice matters, so start talking about the things you are passionate about.
4. Organize a Local Service Project:
Everyone likes being a part of something bigger than themselves, and you can help do that. Share your idea online to paint a park, serve a meal at a shelter, or start a free art camp at an orphanage. Give them a date, time, and your vision.
5. Connect with Others:
There are many others like you who are leading for change. Search for your passion on Twitter or Instagram, then follow people who also talk about it. You might even find another local event centered around your cause.

Social media can be a tool in the lives of your teenagers to make a difference in the world. Let’s reclaim the power of technology for good and help our teens stand out as lights in the darkness.

Brian Housman author

rian Housman has had the privilege of speaking at more than two hundred parenting conferences from coast to coast and internationally. He is the author of Tech Savvy Parenting and Engaging Your Teen’s World. Brian and his wife Mona have been married for twenty-one years and have two teenagers, Bailey and Ashlan. Get daily parenting tips from him on Twitter at @bwhousman.