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What the Ice Bucket Challenge Can Teach Your Teens About Social Media

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What the Ice Bucket Challenge Can Teach Your Teens About Social Media

Evidence of this viral epidemic can be seen on almost any news channel, Facebook feed, and morning talk show. It’s everywhere. Coolers, buckets, ice, and water are in high demand as communities catch and spread the fever. I am not talking about the Ebola epidemic or a strong strain of H1N1 influenza; I am talking about the outbreak of the Ice Bucket Challenge. The social media challenge has officially reached pandemic levels on my Facebook newsfeed.

Videos of friends and celebrities have flooded my updates with their challenges as they pour ice-cold water over their heads. This is a great marketing tool to raise funds and awareness of ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” This condition affects the muscles and brain communication, resulting in paralysis and eventually death. Before the past few weeks, many people hadn’t really understood what ALS was until it stormed social media.

Social Media Awareness

Many people still have no idea why they are doing the Ice Bucket Challenge. People see it as a fun and crazy stunt, something everyone is doing. A lot of people fail to mention ALS or follow through with a donation to the ALS foundation. Teens in particular are unaware that this challenge has solid reasoning behind it.

It went viral almost instantly, raising awareness for a variety of issues regarding social media and ALS. We are no longer quarantined to our small communities or neighborhoods—we are all connected by social media. This challenge has provided a great platform for instructing teens on social media and the potential impact it has on our society.

Consider discussing some of the topics below to get your teens thinking deeper about social media:

  • Information can go viral.

Even something as silly as dumping ice on your head. Everyone all around the world has the potential to view something you post. Be careful.

  • Perspective matters.

People interpret things differently based on geography, backgrounds, and history. Some people can’t fathom wasting water, just check out Matt Damon’s toilet water challenge.Jumping on the bandwagon is easy.

Very few people are donating or aware of the cause they are championing by taking the challenge. A majority of the people accepting the challenge are doing it because it’s fun and everyone else is doing it, too.

  • People want to see the good in the world.

Most people care about others and have compassion for mankind. When we all work together, we can accomplish something great!

  • There are “haters” everywhere.

People say mean things all the time, even when you work for a good cause. You have to learn how to handle criticism, because you can’t please everyone.

  • Knowledge is power.

Informing people about ALS has increased awareness and revenue. Including links and vital information to a fun challenge has put this disease back on the radar. Lou Gehrig would be proud.

  • “Fails” make great entertainment, but remember that people have feelings.

Embarrassing posts might be entertaining, but be careful with your comments..

  • It’s in people’s nature to always try to “one up” each other.

The challenge started with coolers and buckets, but now people are using tractor bucket loaders and swimming pools. Bigger isn’t always better.

These topics all serve as great conversation starters to use during a family dinner or during a car ride. The social media attention has made it possible for everyday people to spread a little cheer and help a good cause. You don’t have to be a celebrity to impact the world.

All good things come to an end, and soon the chills will be forgotten and the ice will stay packed in the freezer. Social media is great at incubating contagious fads, but they don’t seem to affect us for very long. In a week or so, a new fad will be spreading throughout the country once again. With the next influx of videos and challenges, your teen will be a little more immune to their charms and have a deeper understanding of how social media can impact the world.

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Written by Amy Williams

Amy Williams is a journalist and mother in Southern California. With two children who are constantly on social media, she finds it important to use trending events as ways to educate them. You can read more of her content on the TeenSafe blog, where she writes about parenting-related issues.

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