The Conscientious Teen’s Guide to Using the Internet for Good

This post is a series of blogs contributed by SMW NYC media partner Differences Magazine. To learn more about Differences Magazine and to see the original post by Jessica Bender, please click here

There’s no doubt about it; the typical American teenager is obsessed with the Internet. According to a 2011 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, the vast majority of teenagers ages 12 to 17 (a whopping 95 percent) are now online. Most teens are addicted to watching epic feats of kitten talents on YouTube or reading up on old-school Nickelodeon cartoons on Wikipedia, but a lot don’t know that they can use their Internet skills to do good.

With the exponential growth of teenage social responsibility and activism over the past few years, the apathetic teen is slowly becoming extinct. Heck, you even have a better shot of getting into the college of your dreams if you even volunteer (according to a survey conducted by teen-centric non-profit! Want to get in on the do-gooder action? We know the best places for you to get inspired and get started on your quest to become a young social activist.

If you’re attached to your cell phone…you can get inspiration on ways to volunteer to your mobile! sends out weekly volunteering ideas once a week to over 35,000 teens, so you have the power to make a difference right in your text inbox! Sign up by texting “DoSomething” to 30644 or registering your cell number here.

For the YouTube addicts…make your voice heard with your webcam. When it comes to important social issues, an audience will always exist. While you’re recording, make sure to keep it short, simple, and fun! Check out crowd-source initiatives like the It Gets Better Project and We Stop Hate to get you started on your quest to become a socially responsibly YouTube sensation.

It’s okay if you overshare on your social networks…if you’re sharing the right content. Instead of updating your statuses with tales of unrequited love, try to share stories and content on Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn about issues you truly care about. Your followers will thank you for the breath of fresh air on their feeds.

Glued to your Tumblr dashboard? There’s tons of non-profits and charities that post and reblog mega-cool content revolving around social good and making a difference. Their inspiration and feel-good posts will also probably make your heart grow a few sizes bigger, so it’s probably a good idea to follow what they’re doing. Some of my fave non-profits that are invading Tumblr include The Trevor Project, To Write Love on Her Arms, She’s the First, and UNICEF.

Can’t stop Tweeting? Use your Twitter account as a platform to promote issues and causes you’re passionate about in 140 characters or less. Three things to keep in mind while being a thoughtful Tweetheart:

1. Hashtag keywords when Tweeting so your Tweets show up easier in searches.

2. When Tweeting an article you want to share, make sure to refer back to the source’s Twitter handle. They’ll appreciate you taking notice of their content and might follow you back as a result.

3. Don’t Tweet or retweet too much – that’ll drive your followers absolutely crazy.

That being said, there’s a plethora of organizations and social good sites just aching for more followers. Mashable and GOOD have lists of organizations for you to follow and worship.

On the Ground at Social Media Week: Social Good Hosted by SapientNitro

Throughout this week we’ll be posting on the ground accounts from individuals that attended New York Social Media Week events.  To participate, email a blog submission to

Check out the hashtags #socialgood and #smwsapient for more insight into the conversation surrounding this event.  For the event description, click here and to watch the entire panel via Live Stream, click here.

The final day of Social Media Week NYC 2011 included a panel from New York City sponsor SapientNitro, and was one of three incredible panels that they graciously curated over the course of the week.  I had an opportunity to attend the first two of their fantastic sessions and their last panel was no different.  The panel entitled “Social Good for All” proved to be an excellent source of information, knowledge and expertise.  The panel began with some pretty shocking quotes about consumers, companies and social good.  Below are a two data points that were particularly striking:

  • “90% of consumers want companies to tell them the ways they are supporting causes”
  • “Nearly 50% of consumers will seek out similar products from a different brand if they hear that a company’s corporate behavior is especially bad”

You can find more information from SapientNitro panels here.

The panel was moderated by Cindy Gallop, Founder & CEO of If We Ran the and goes to show that finding the right moderator for your panel is the key.  With an introduction by Janice Chow, the panel began with a short video on “Brands Doing Social Good” which consisted of consumer interviews and covered their thoughts and feelings on social good.

The findings were very split, while many interviewees indicitated that where they shop depends largely on the level of philanthrophy exhibited by a company, many others said it played less of a factor.  Others simply said that they were skeptical and believed that companies were just trying to show off and often showed no follow through.  The panel leveraged the footage to debate whether or not companies are actually willing to make doing good part of their brand’s DNA.

Cindy was a riot throughout the panel and opened up with the disclaimer that she believes in a panel that is controversial, lively and sparks debate. She then transitioned with a few provocative words about sex to explain that she wants to make doing good “sexy “, a philosophy exhibited through her website  Below, I will attempt to give a broad overview of the topics and points made in the panel, but I highly suggest watching the entire recap on Livestream.


  • Shiv Singh, Head of Digital, PepsiCo Beverages, America
  • Alnoor Ladha, Head of Strategy, Purpose
  • Paull Young, Director of Digital Engagement, Charity Water
  • Max Schorr, Co-Founder, GOOD Magazine
  • Christopher Bishop, Senior Communications, IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs

Cindy asked the panelists to provide their thoughts on the title of the session, Social Good, and the overall consensus was that it did not fully illustrate what the discussion was about.  That somehow it implies that there is a lot of social bad out there.  Many agreed that we should be moving away from the need for a panel about social good altogether and that doing good should no longer be looked at as dorky or a chore. Rather, doing good should become standard procedure and it shouldn’t matter where or why someone is doing it, but that they are simply doing something.

The words “good intentions” were being thrown around quite a bit in the context of companies doing great things, but the consensus was that even those companies still having a long way to go.  The panelists discussed the barriers that make it extremely hard, barriers not faced by non-profits, like shareholders, employees and profit; a corporate entity will always be driven by the need to make money.

The panel leveraged the dynamic of donations via text message after the earthquakes in Haiti as an example.  While it was a great idea in theory, mobile phone companies remained in the middle and thus prevented consumers and non-profits from really connecting.

The panelists then discussed the importance of demanding that businesses incorporate social good into their overall business strategies to create something more sustainable and that the process to executed in a way that was transparent.The discussion was lively, helped by the fact that panelists included representatives from all sides of the spectrum, Pepsi and IBM, but also,  Charity Water, Purpose and GOOD.

The panel then delved into how society overall might adapt to embrace social good in its varying forms noting the cultural and behavioral barriers, impacted by business and government, that make a more holistic transition difficult to achieve.  We still drive cars, use oil and eat processed foods in part because there aren’t electric charge stations and organic fruit stands available on every corner.

The panel concluded by acknowledging that there’s been a huge shift in perception of a variety of activities that were at one point considered to be nerdy.  What’s left to be seen is if we can arrive at a point where doing good is sexy, and taking action is cool.

Amanda Mullahey is a contributor for the Social Media Week NY Blog and a digital strategist, social media enthusiast and freelance blogger.  You can check out her website here.

Hub Spotlight: People & Society at The Paley Center for Media

Last week we announced the locations of four Content Hubs, each of which will focus on  a specific theme. Over the course of this week, we are going to focus on highlighting each Hub and some of the specific topics that will be featured, as well as how you or your organization can contribute to the programming.

The confirmed partnerships include: Science and Technology Hub, hosted by Google; Business, Media, and Communications Hub, hosted by global advertising agency JWT; People & Society Hub, hosted by The Paley Center for Media; and Music, Gaming & Sports, hosted by Red Bull Space. As we mentioned in our announcement, we are also launching a fifth Hub which will cover Arts & Culture, the location of which we will share in the coming week or so.


Today’s spotlight is on the People & Society Hub at The Paley Center for Media.  The theme itself is clearly fairly broad, so we have decided to focus on the following topic areas in terms of how they are impacted by developments in social and mobile media:

  • Education
  • Health & technology
  • Philanthropy
  • CSR
  • Government & Civil Society
  • Environment

If you or your organization is interested in curating a session and helping to shape the programming at the People & Society Hub, we would love to hear from you.  Sessions are typically two hours in length and can either be a series of talks, a panel, a workshop or seminar.  We encourage our guest curators to think creatively about their sessions and consider designing an experience that moves beyond traditional conference formats.

To submit a session idea, please visit the event registration page and reference which Hub you are interested in, in your application.

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities at the People & Society Hub, we have some really exciting ways for brands to participate  in the experience and contribute to the programming. For more information please contact

The People & Society Hub is brought to you by Social Media Week & The Paley Center for Media with additional curation from ThinkSocial & GOOD.

About the Paley Center

The Paley Center for Media, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms for the professional community and media-interested public.