Media Impact and Navigation for Teens

Our Fundraiser with B.Good

We had our fundraiser with B.Good on Tuesday night in Boston, and it went great! We're so excited to have partnered with such an incredible company. If you haven't heard about B.Good, check them out. They have many locations across the East Coast, which is why we highly suggest eating at their restaurants and supporting them. Between their awesome food and incredible mission- B.Good is one of our favorite places!

Some lovely girls showed up to support M.I.N.T. and we loved talking to them about growing up and being strong women! Our team highly suggests parents start talking to their teens about social media + self-love at a young age, and these girls are following such a great path. It's so important to implement healthy ideas in children's minds the minute they are old enough to speak.

Thank you to everyone who showed up, and we're excited for the next upcoming M.I.N.T. talks happening in September!

 

Our Ethics

Us at M.I.N.T. stand for a few things. Here's some Monday inspiration and guidance to get you through your week!

1. We stand with Planned Parenthood

Our team doesn't have any issues supporting this cause. With a President in office who doesn't believe in many of the topics we believe in, it's important that more people start standing up for their rights. We are trying to reduce the stigma around mental health, AND supporting the causes you believe in.

2. We stand with teens taking over

The past few years have revolutionized how people view teens. In the past, teens weren't given nearly the time of day that adults were, but now, teens are running the game. Millennials are writing for the top magazines, learning how to pitch the minute they're born (literally) and following their dreams. That's what we like to see!

3. Mental health issues are not your fault

There is a stigma around mental health issues that we are trying to reduce. But many people still blame the person with mental health issues, stating that it's "there problem" or "their issue" when it actually isn't. About 1/25 adults in the United States face mental health issues, and instead of blaming, be a friend for whoever you know is facing some issues. You may be able to help them overcome them.

4. Teens need M.I.N.T.

We're a bit biased, but from our research, teens need M.I.N.T. Teens need to hear about their bodies, their wellness, and their lives. We believe strongly in opening up the discussion on health to teens, and we need your help to continue pursuing our passion to make every teen fall in love with who they are.

Happy Monday!

Why Not Us? Why Not Now?

Ever wondered how this project got started? Well, I’ll tell you anyway.

I met Alexa at a Talkspace conference in April 2016 in New York City. She presented eloquently and was very engaging during her discussion at the conference. At the end of her panel, the moderator noted that she was 18 years old. I was so impressed, I had to seek her out and tell her.

While lining up for lunch, I saw her. I told her I was really impressed by her knowledge of teen and young adult issues and her life experience. As we chatted quickly (of course, she was going somewhere else quickly!). we exchanged business cards. She was working out of Boston and we decided we should meet at some point.

When we did, we had two other collaborators who wanted to do the impossible: replace DARE in schools with a 60 minute panel discussion on mental health, teens, social media, and the stressors they faced. We did not have a name at a time but we had ideas and enthusiasm.  That was good enough to start creating a curriculum and talking to schools.

Our team worked at exchanging ideas and suggestions on how to present the material. It was exciting and we really wanted to go across the country and make these presentations. Our goal was to offer information, as well as educate in a fun, creative way, about the social media.

In time, our collaborators have worked with us behind the scene, as they had other personal and professional obligations that were happening. We both consider Jamieson and Abbey part of our team. Alexa Curtis and I have been working diligently to set up schools, create surveys, get good information based on studies, and a host of brainstorming ideas.

We got to speak to our first school in October. We then spoke in several other schools, 6 to be exact, spread across 3 states. We have enjoyed all the talks and gotten feedback on what was working and what was not. Alexa and I continue to work on MINT daily with passion and do everything to promote it.

So why us? Because we are a great team, we have added other collaborators since then. It will bring more excitement and more discussion, as well as a great set of opportunities. We can be flexible and present a curriculum that is adapted to the school need based on the surveys and information provided in them. We want this project to succeed. We want to reach out in every state. This is not something that is our job: it is our passion.

And we need to do it now. No one is talking social media, texting, and other newer communication devises and how it affects our teens lives significantly. We need to address it now before it gets more difficult. We are not looking to take away social media from teens: we want them to be more responsible and respectful with it, seeing the impact it has on them and on others.

It needs to be done now and we are the collaborative team to do it!

Thanks Girls' Life!

Thank you Girls' Life Magazine for the fantastic feature!

 

Whether we like it or not, social media is a *huge* part of our lives. Some people are more involved with it than others, but it's basically impossible to escape it and it's all too easy to get lost in it. Our lives seem so much different from the famous models, actresses and Insta-babes whose feeds we scroll through day after day, and it can really have an impact on how we view ourselves—especially when it comes to our bodies.

Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and shades. But when you see the same body shape time and time again you might start to believe that that’s what the most beautiful or ideal body is. But the truth is far from that. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh, or what the color of your skin is—you are beautiful in your own way, even if your version is not reflected in the media.

That's a reality that Alexa Curtis understands *all* too well. The fashion blogger and entrepreneur recently chatted with us about her struggle with an eating disorder that stemmed from her experience in the modeling industry. As a teen, Alexa was severely bullied and dealt with depression for many years as a result of constantly comparing herself to what she saw online. Alexa explained, “[Social media] gives these girls who don’t necessarily have the 'perfect' life or body this unrealistic expectation that they should be that by the time they're 19, 20 or 21. And then they get there and that’s not what the reality is.” 

Meet Our Team: Cassell Ferere

As M.I.N.T expands, it's quite important for us to find people who believe in our message. One person we met who made in impact almost immediately on us was Cassell. A Brooklyn photographer with a unique perspective and view on the industry, Cassell was a hit at our last talk in Brooklyn, NY. Welcome to the fam! Read his interview answers below. 

1. What inspired you to be a part of M.I.N.T?

I decided to be part of MINT because the message is something I stand firm in - not letting social media control aspects of my life mentally.

2. Why are you interested in social media and it's effect on mental health?

I'm interested because I have seen how social media has been changing the social dynamic for the masses - connecting everyone while isolating everyone, simultaneously. 

3. Why is this so important to you?  

I grew up on the cusp of the dotcom, digital, and social media era. And to witness it's effects as someone who was, at first, reluctant, has altered my view of the world as fragile.

4. How is M.I.N.T different from other anti-bullying campaigns that are out there? 

The focus on the mental effects of social media as well as the the resolves that can be met through the same channels that consume us.

5. How does it feel to get out there and spread your message to teens across the country?

 

I feel like I can be the medium between finding the real world and navigating the social media world for teens because of my position and will power to not be consumed by social media, but rather, using it to my advantage.

7. Who inspires you as you continue to build MINT? 

I think I'm most inspired by people and the life they live. It's evident to see how someone is living through social media but it's also evident that none can entirely live their live on social media. Those that try to are at the most risk of getting lost in the digital world. They forget the charm found in real world encounters. 

8. What is the best advice that you received that has really helped you?

"Sticks and stones may break my bones..." I like this phrase because it reminds me of how strong I can be when someone is trying to put me down.

9. What are your goals for this year?

I would like to become more open to the idea of being a voice for the people. Making my brand something people can relate to.

 

10. Where do you hope to see M.I.N.T in 5 years from now?

I see MINT having a dynamic effect on the youth culture, influencing the younger generation to be more adept with the realities of social media and its effects.

Depression & Social Media

Have you just read someone else’s status, seen someone’s tweet, or someone’s picture and got a little down? Are you feeling upset about the recent post of a friend or family member? Are you getting down or having trouble sleeping because of your social media use?

One of the things that can be a side effect of the use of social media is the effects it may have on our mental health. One of the most common feelings that we can see is the fact that we get down when we see someone else’s post where they appear to have fun or other stuff that makes you feel “less than” that other person. It is a very common phenomenon but sometimes, we see so many things that do that to us that it affects us in a deeper way.

We start feeling down about ourselves, which effects our self-esteem. We start thinking some negative thoughts about ourselves as we continue to compare our lives to what we are seeing on our social media and how it appears boring and unexceptional. We start isolating and start staying in bed, eating less (or more, depending on the person), and even start thinking if our lives are worth living? It is more common than you think.

It is estimated that 20% of teenagers will develop depressive symptoms that meets criteria for the diagnosis. While this stat may seem low to some (1 out of 5), this has to do with meeting the clinical definition. It is common for many teens to have some of these symptoms but it cannot be underemphasized how often it is related to the social media bombardment that they receive. But let’s also be realistic about it.

Previous generations were more isolated (no Internet) and had these symptoms in their lives also. They could, however, leave their social problems at school and go home and not hear about it.  With the advent of mobile phones, teens today cannot “Get away” from it as easily. It is important, however, to limit some social media use, not because it is bad, but what it does to their thoughts.

Please also remember that a person takes on average 5 selfies before posting the “right” one (6 for girls, 4 for boys). The post you see is a snapshot of a moment and not the entire time of the event. Most posts are meant to raise the self-esteem of the person posting, not to put yours down. Most posts put the best foot forward and this may be the best they feel all day. And finally, life is lived face to face not on social media. Try those uplifting thoughts when you see something that brings you down.

Don't Be a Bully

Bullying is something that has been talked about for years, and is sometimes wrongly thrown around.

Bullying is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. 

This aggressive behavior can take many forms:

  1. Physical Intimidation: this is the most commonly known form of bullying. It involves using physical power to push around, beat up, or hurt someone. 

2. Financial Intimidation: this is the lunch money issue we once knew. It also comes in form of paying someone to be protected. It may also relate to socioeconomic status, as well as what brands of clothes you have.

3. Cyber Bullying: this is becoming disconcertingly common, happening to 33% users of social media under 18, with 95% of social media users witnessing it. It uses social media to pressure someone out on purpose, telling other teen users not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors about someone, embarrassing someone in public. It is related to verbal bullying as it was once known. Our talks relate many issues to cyber bullying constantly. 

It can be intimidating to intervene in cyber bullying issues, as you don't want to lose your social status, appear uncool, or even policing your peers. We can also keep in mind of many cases where cyber bullying and bullying have led to some teenager to kill themselves and citing bullying and social media as the main source of their despair.

So what you should do?

Speak up anyway. It is a risk to take but don't you wish someone would support you if you were going through it yourself? You may lose a few friends but were they really your friends if this is all it took? 

Report it. Most social media platforms have a reporting button. It is usually anonymous and can be addressed by a neutral third party. You can also let a trusted adult, social worker, adjustment counselor about the issue. They will be more than happy to help the victim. You can also report it to law enforcement if it is of violent nature or sexual.

 Ask questions to the bully. It usually disarms the person bullying and makes it more difficult to continue to hurt others when others question you. It may encourage others to support you.

We all have a role in it. Don't go silent, your voice is needed by everyone.

Talk to your peers. Talking to your friends and other kids in school can also be beneficial. It takes away the power from the bully and you may also find allies that have been through what you have been through. There is something to be said about having strength and numbers. We are social and having a social support network definitely helps.

We all have the power to stop bullying. And it's in your hands. You are not powerless. You have the possibility to change things.

M.I.N.T Takes Brooklyn

Yesterday, our team took on Charles O. Dewey Middle School in Brooklyn, NY. It was a fun and interactive talk. We brought on a new panelist which added a new level of content to our talk. Meet Cassell, a Brooklyn based photographer who is an awesome and genuine person. A big part of hiring folks for this line of work is seeing the traits immediately of someone who is going to change the world. They have to be very good with kids, and not get intimidated standing up in front of a group of faculty + teens in a massive auditorium. You'd be surprised at how intimidating that can be!

For this talk, we focused on trolling, body image and following your dreams. Trolling is quite interesting, and is becoming a huge phenomenon in the teen space. If you've never heard of trolling, the definition of trolling can be found here.

We find at each school talk that many people hide behind their phone for different reasons. They may be scared to accept who they are, or may be insecure, and find the need to put other people down. People, especially kids, don't realize the harm that comes in the present and future from putting people down on the internet. The next time you feel poorly about yourself, or like you need someone to lift you up, simply text your friend, or start a thread on Reddit. You'll be so much happier talking to someone in person than you will be putting someone else down. 

We promise!