March 10, 2023

The power of positive influencers: Insights from our Student Ambassadors

Student voice is at the core of our work with schools. Check out what two of our student ambassadors, Esther and Oliver from Northview Public Schools, shared about their experience finding positive influencers. 

Educators can apply these students’ strategies and insights from this article to help even more students find their influencers.

In the interview, Esther and Oliver shared their personal experiences finding role models online, their positive approach to social media, and what they wish adults knew when it comes to student well-being. 

Surrounding ourselves with positive influencers

Social media enables students to follow a variety of celebrities and influencers, create communities with people around the world, and pursue their passions. When it comes to following social media influencers, both Esther and Oliver look for kind people who use their platforms for positive change. Some of these influencers include Vivian Tu, who gives financial advice, Spencer Barbosa, who posts about body positivity, and Mr. Beast, a popular YouTuber and philanthropist. 

For Esther, she chooses to follow influencers who are looking to do more than just gain likes and views. She said, “There are so many influencers and accounts out there that are fake and just show you what you want to see. I follow influencers like Vivian and Spencer because they are refreshing and real. They use their platforms to create change and help others around them.”

Oliver shares that the influencers he follows have opened his eyes to how the world can be and the importance of being aware of his actions. For example, he learned the value of holding doors for others from the influencers that he follows. He shared, “After watching influencers like Mr. Beast open doors for people, I have started to do it as well, and it has become a habit for me.” 

Navigating online pressures

When it comes to the people we follow, it’s no surprise that what we see online is often a highlight reel. From filters to photoshop, what we see is a culmination of the best pictures and content influencers want us to see. 

Esther shares, “I think everyone is influenced by the people around them every day. If one of your friends does something, even if you don’t think it’s right, a lot of people will just do it too to go along with it.” Psychologists often refer to this as groupthink, which means people will choose to conform over rational-decision making. And students will often adhere to this groupthink to fit in.

Both Esther and Oliver agree that who we surround ourselves with can make an impact on our well-being, so they are big advocates of following people that build us up and encourage us to be the best version of ourselves. 

Get inspired with these positive influencers that your students can follow: 

  1. To learn more about environmental activism follow, Greta Thunberg 
  2. To hear from other students about important issues facing Gen Z, follow Talk with Zach (and stay tuned for a Q&A coming soon) 
  3. To gain insight into student well-being and how we can become the best versions of ourselves, follow Justin Baldoni (and check out our blog for a discussion into the famous actor’s experience growing up in the age of social media

Tips to keep it positive

For students, social media is being social. It is a place for students to find a community, keep up with trends, and form relationships. 

There is no doubt that social media has changed the landscape of how students connect, communicate, and learn. Esther and Oliver believe that social media is a powerful tool that allows students to communicate and inspire others no matter where they are. 

Esther shared that social media and technology have changed the way people cope with stress. Right now, both Esther and Oliver are worried about what students’ social worlds may look like if social media, specifically TikTok, is restricted. 

Esther said, “When people have a problem or feel alone, many turn to social media. It’s not easy for students to go talk to a counselor or adult, and it is a vulnerable position for students to be in. Tech provides both resources and communities for students to deal with the stress they may be facing.” 

When it comes to what students want educators and adults to know, Esther and Oliver have some important tips: 

  1. Our world is changing and so are we 
  2. We have a lot on our plate and sometimes we need a break or time for ourselves 
  3. Social media is not always a bad thing and it is a way for us to stay connected 
  4. We need to all give ourselves grace and treat each other with kindness 

The Social Institute’s Student Ambassadors, like Esther and Oliver, provide us with powerful insights into students’ experiences with their well-being, social media, and tech. We celebrate student voices throughout our school partnerships and within our interactive lesson platform, #WinAtSocial. When schools partner with The Social Institute, educators can nominate students to be a part of this program. Partners, click here to nominate a student today. Not a partner but want your students to be a part of the Student Ambassadors Program? Contact us to learn about this exciting opportunity for students at your school.

Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest trends online by subscribing to our newsletter where we talk about trending tech and social media news weekly! In the meantime, check out our Instagram and TikTok @thesocialinst for tips and highlights on all the well-being, social media, and tech trends impacting students.

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in understanding student experiences and creator of #WinAtSocial, a gamified, online learning platform that equips students, educators, and families to navigate social experiences — online and offline — in healthy ways. Our unique, student-respected approach incorporates topics like social media, technology use, and current events that have a significant impact on student well-being. Lessons teach life skills for the modern day to inspire high-character decisions that support the health, happiness, and future success of students, while capturing data that provides insights to school leaders to inform school policy and communications, and enable high-impact teaching and a healthy learning environment. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities. For schools, our turnkey technology allows for easy implementation and a comprehensive game plan to support the well-being of school communities.