June 21, 2024

Amplifying Student Voices: How using our mics for good can inspire positive change

Be sure to check out the suggested Huddle question at the bottom of this article to discuss this important topic with your students in class, if you feel it is appropriate.

Have you ever come across a quote or story online that left an impact on you? If so, you’re not alone – 76% of people surveyed said that they have been inspired by social media content. With 51% of teens using social media for at least four hours a day, they’ve likely been inspired by content they saw online, too. Many students also see social media as an effective tool for advocating for social change, like awareness and inclusivity for marginalized groups of people. According to Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans believe that social media helps spread awareness for social or political issues. One student, Mason Branstrator, is using his mic for good to both raise awareness and inspire others by posting about his experiences as someone who uses a wheelchair. 

Through his posts, he is raising awareness of the need for inclusivity and accessibility so others can advocate for it in their own communities. In the same way Branstrator uses social media to shine a spotlight on the experiences of individuals with disabilities, educators can inspire students to do the same by empowering them to use their mic for good and advocate for change in their communities. 

Using social media to make a positive impact

When Branstrator was in 11th grade, a skiing accident left him partially paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, he posts about his wide range of abilities with his wheelchair on social media, with over 260k followers on Instagram and over 65k on TikTok. One way Branstrator uses his mic for good is by sharing tips for others who face the same challenges as him. He shares videos like one about his method of getting upstairs, which he says leads to messages from people worldwide, saying his content inspires and helps them. Another way he uses his mic for good is by spreading awareness and advocating for accessibility. He says that, especially in schools, people with disabilities shouldn’t be the only ones advocating for change. By using his mic for good, Branstrator is inspiring students in classrooms everywhere to speak up and advocate for inclusivity in their schools. 

One of Branstrator’s goals is to highlight other individuals using their mic for good and amplify their experiences on social media. Another person who does this is Travis Gilmore, a TikTok creator with over 240k followers, who posts videos of him cooking with paralyzed hands, showing that individuals are living successful lives with their disabilities. 

Educators can bring examples like these to the classroom, to show students how they can use social media to use their mic for good and raise awareness for the causes they care about. When students see creators like Branstrator and Gilmore, they might be seeing representations of their own experiences or challenges and feel empowered to speak up about them. Students using their mic for good can bring positive change to their school communities by creating more inclusive environments. Social media is a powerful tool, as demonstrated by these two positive influencers. When educators encourage students to use social media positively, they can inspire them to advocate for change and spread positivity using their platform.

TSI’s Take: How empowering students to use their mic for good can change a school community

Mason Branstrator is a great example of a student using his mic for good to inspire others and create positive change because he isn’t letting his age or disability stop him from raising awareness for the challenges he faces. All students, regardless of who they are, can raise awareness for the issues they care about – and they can use social media to do it. We know that students care about the challenges their communities face and want to advocate for them. In the #WinAtSocial lesson Brainstorming ways to elevate student voice in our school community, we asked students what they’d like to see their schools do to help students be able to speak up and be heard about concerns they have. Thirty-nine percent of students worldwide responded they’d like for their schools to have student leaders who can bring concerns to teachers and administrators. Insights like these are important because they help schools address their students’ concerns and show them that student voices are heard

By empowering students to use their mic for good online, educators are inspiring students to be the change they want to see in their communities, and there is an academic benefit as well. Research shows that when students feel heard by their schools, their grades and attendance improve

Here are tips on how to empower students to use their mic for good:

All students have the opportunity to make a positive impact by sharing their stories online and using their mic for good. As we’ve seen with Mason Branstrator, social media can be a powerful tool for raising awareness, advocating for change, and inspiring others to use their mic for good. By sharing their experiences and tips, these creators show the potential of social media to support and empower individuals facing similar challenges. Educators play a crucial role in this by highlighting such examples in the classroom, showing students how they too can leverage their voices to champion causes they care about in their schools. To further inspire students to use their mic for good with social media, play the #WinAtSocial Lesson, Using social media to tackle some of our generation’s biggest challenges, in your classroom!

#WinAtSocial Huddle Question

Huddle with your students
How can you use social media to raise awareness and advocate for a cause you care about, and what steps can you take to ensure your message is positive and impactful?

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in empowering students by understanding students. Through #WinAtSocial, our gamified, peer-to-peer learning platform, we equip students, educators, and families to navigate their social world – in the classroom and beyond, online and offline – in healthy, high-character ways. Our unique, student-respected approach empowers and equips, rather than scares and restricts. We incorporate timely topics about social media, tech use, and current events that are impacting student well-being and learning. #WinAtSocial Lessons teach life skills for the modern day, capture student voice, and provide school leaders with actionable insights. Through these insights, students play an essential role in school efforts to support their own health, happiness, and future success as we enable high-impact teaching, meaningful family conversations, and a healthy school culture.