Media’s Positive Impact on Kids: Twitter Sends An Orphan to College!

“Blogs, tweets, and apps for good causes, oh my!”

In a twist on the ol’ “lions and tigers and bears” yellowbrick road adage, it’s amazing to see how some mother cubs are reaching out to help children reach the Emerald City of education far across the hemisphere, forever altering their life course in under 24 hours!

In under a day, using Twitter journalism, Facebook, and the power of media for positive change, the amazing Beth Kanter raised $1000 to send Leng Sopharath, a young woman in Cambodia to college via the Sharing Foundation. (see video of Leng and this post and commentary on Chris Brogan’s blog about community building via digital relationships) Clearly we’re ‘not in Kansas anymore’ with this kind of new media microfunding…

Today, Michelle Martin is paying it forward on her own Bamboo Project blog (don’t miss her insightful post about online identity too) as she adds a young man named Champhearom into the mix, with a Chip-In widget and outreach to her readers too! (see Beth’s Flickr photos of her visit w/Leng & more on the college sponsorship program here)

About time for some good news on media’s impact on youth, eh?

Just as Drew, Gavin, Arun, CK, Troy, David Brazeal and all our co-authors in The Age of Conversation used blog links to raise $10,000 here for Variety, the Children’s Charity in under one month, Beth has now taken micro-financing to a new level of speed and impact!

Check out this screen shot to see Twitter’s instantaneous mobilization.

For the cost of a couple of lattes or yuppie chow, a $10 donation using media as the conduit for change can instantly make a difference. Last year her outreach took three weeks via her popular blog, this year? Less than a day.

Media is morphing every nanosecond, with the power to champion change and triumph over trivia if we just mobilize forces in a meaningful manner without losing sight of the natural, non-media world in the meantime. (see post I wrote here on kids and nature deficit disorder)

The good news in new media potential? It’s sorting itself out with pragmatics and purpose among fellow ‘webolutionaries’ seeking a massive mindshift toward meaningful media that’s fun…

First, David Armano reports on teen heroes via Twitter journalism, now Truemors and posts like Good Crime Think’s “this is why I Tweet” make it self-evident why Twitter quickly shifted from media minutiae to a powerful information-age tool…

Pretty impressive when “posts and a tweets” can send kids to college…Energizing!

Can’t wait to tell the entire Age of Conversation gang about this and share ‘best practices’ with Beth as to how to keep the momentum going among virtual friends. For example…

AOC has a Curious George stuffed animal mascot circulating around the globe for photo opps among our co-authors to remind us of the personal human element each and every one of us adds to the mix in our individual contributions to the book, the kids, and the planet! Greg Verdino’s family shown here.

This is Beth’s fourth personal fundraising campaign for her Cambodian kids, and it was juiced by media’s rapid techno-speed and connections that many nonprofits wish they had the firepower to achieve.

Beth has her own explanation for how and why this campaign worked so fast, but I have my own hunch, which includes the ‘doability quotient’ (ten bucks; piece of cake, literally!) and Beth’s personal charisma, which goes far beyond logistics.

In other words, just like in real life, it’s all about relationships.

In a snap, we choose what’s worthy in the media filters of our brain, and assign credibility and context accordingly.

It’s what one of my NextNow collaboratory colleagues, Dave Davison calls, “ROA”–return on attention.

We’re inundated with media messages, which ones do we act upon?

Which ones do we toss, due to ‘tmi’ overload?

In the media sphere with everything vying for visibility and attention, who do you trust to come up with quality and credibility in their blog posts?

Please leave some personal “must-sees” for sites in our comment section. Why?

Because online, or offline it’s the same thing…personal referrals matter, word of mouth rules.

Think about it…Beth’s campaign wouldn’t have had the virtual clout if it was a random ‘bulk mailing’…

It was personal, passionate, and makes ME think I should really kick into gear and put a ‘chip-in’ button on THIS blog so that people can be enrolled in being a part of something GOOD. (plus, all nonprofits need the funding!)

Blogs are akin to virtual relationships…We find extraordinary people who inspire and contribute to our lives, (like friends you wish you could hear from more often in the real world) and then there are those that are inconsistent, without enough substance to be keep you full engaged (like an acquaintance you see every once in awhile, the type that might brown out for a better offer, so you’re not too sure if it’s worth slating in pen)

I believe Beth’s media success is as much about HER as it is her cause…Those human touchpoints cannot be taken lightly.

It’s all about mindshare, credibility, building virtual connectivity through trust.

In a way, that’s very good news…

It ensures you won’t have every generic cause-marketing pitchmeister “tweeting and poking and meeting up in virtual worlds” to hunt you down for a paypal donation!

No one would pay attention. Because it’s all very personal. Just like Beth. And Michelle. And Leng and Champhearom. I’ve never met any of them, nor have I met my co-authors at AOC…but there’s an element of ‘being on the same page,’ that speaks to humanity as a whole.

Point? Digital fundraising is personal…

Just as there’s a fine line between ‘forward to a friend’ and spam, there’s a respectfulness about media sharing where we all need to be circumspect. (I, for example, pulled the ’cause’ button off of my Facebook page, because there were too many causes I wanted to support, and I didn’t want people thinking, ‘oh, there’s that do-gooder Amy again, what’s she hawking, this time?)

Media’s kind of like that old nursery rhyme, ‘when she is good, she is very, very good, and when she is bad, she is horrid.’ Beth exemplifies how we can harness the power of media for positive change…

Please ping me with more fresh ideas on ways we can mobilize media for youth and make a difference out there…

Meanwhile, CHIP-IN via Beth’s blog or Michelle’s site, you’ll learn a lot from these two wonderful BlogHer goddesses…champions for children and change.

I guarantee you’ll like these gals…Yes, that’s a PERSONAL recommendation.

p.s. Ten bucks, folks. It’s doable!

Save your health from the sat-fat laden 780 calorie over-priced Frappuccino (“food porn” as CSPI calls it) and put those coins toward helping Champhearom go to college next!

Update Per Comment Section Below:

Shaping Youth Articles On Nature Deficit Disorder 

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged



  1. Amy,

    Thank you so much for your help and kind words! I know we can do it!

  2. It’s uncanny that you seem to have addressed “Important Items” long before the rest of the media have “caught on” to things. Not that this is too relevant to today’s blog, but when I picked up this a.m.’s SF CHRON and saw the big coverage on young kids with “Nature Deficit Disorder” (why do they insist on tagging quirks like that with such psychobabble?) I thought, “I remember reading that on Shaping Youth a YEAR or so ago when she took her kid and a friend on a trip to the mountains in Colorado!!”—

    Are you a trend-setter or what??? The Chron sounded as if they’d just NOW become aware of this “goosey about nature” problem among the young…

    Believe me, when you wrote about the “attention span” of your two charges, it DID ring a bell with this old fud, for it reminded me of many auto trips through gorgeous scenery with my two–. Yes, I nagged the heck outta them to get their noses out of their books/comics,etc. — and “LOOK AT THESE BEAUTIFUL VIEWS.”
    (I also recall complaining about this to mutual friends, who scolded me by saying, “Aw, Give them a break!! At least they were READING and doing something constructive instead of fighting with one another.” Hopefully you’ll reach a good solution for this, too,–but it’s to your credit that you’ve been well aware of this problem LONG before the Chronicle’s staff glommed onto the topic. Keep it UP!!!

  3. Thanks for the kind words Adam…actually, you’re referring to an old post that I should add here, so readers can see what you’re talking about! That was almost a year ago when I took them, why so silent and stealthy!? Don’t be shy…leave a comment or two…we bloggers enjoy the feedback, no matter what you have to say! Comment freely, one and all! 🙂

    I think I’ll go back in and edit to add a few relevant links…you’ve inspired me to call this ‘nature deficit disorder issue to everyone’s attention…since come to think of it, I have SEVERAL posts on that..including the teen/urban city Summer Search program to plop gang/at-risk kids into nature for a ‘whoa nelly’ experience…that alters their life course in a POSITIVE direction! Thanks for inspiring me to hit the ol’ archives, hope you’ll come back…Amy

  4. It’s good that social media/micro blogging is put to good use. Not only is it a social outlet but it also becomes a campaign for better things to come.

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