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By Emily Unity
7 September 2022

The concern 

My generation grew up with social media. Whilst our brains were still developing, we were faced with a new level of connectedness and information overload that the world had never seen before. Whilst social media has been typically vilified, I believe that it is neither inherently good nor bad. Instead, we need to be supported to learn healthy digital habits.

Young child, Emily Unity, next to a quote from the article.
Emily Unity at age 4.
Supplied by Emily Unity

The hope 

When I was 13, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I felt like I was permanently broken. I felt so hopeless that I would stay in bed for days with nothing other than my phone. Unexpectedly, online spaces were a place of refuge for me. I found people of diverse struggles and identities that I couldn’t find in real life. Online spaces were some of the only places where I could worry less about discrimination or prejudice, and I was able to safely explore and accept my true identity away from the judgement and expectations in my real life. Social media helped me find support at a time where I was physically and emotionally unable to seek support in my real world. If it weren’t for online spaces, I honestly don’t know whether I could be writing this article right now.

The power of positive storytelling with Emily & Tithi

"Social media helped me see the hope in my recovery journey – I didn't have to be alone. "

Photo of quotee
Emily, UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador

The action 

I truly believe we can all play a part in creating a healthier future for children and young people, no matter who we are or where we come from. We are all still facing major problems: climate change, inequity, discrimination, and health crises. To solve these, we need to work together at scale across communities and countries. The digital space is a new playing field, and it’s a chance for us to disrupt power systems. As young people, we can connect across physical boundaries and start conversations about how to co-design healthy technologies. We can share our stories and amplify our voices to influence decision-makers, magnifying our vision for a better world. I believe that by working together, we can use social media for social good.

If you, or a child or young person you know are experiencing negative thoughts or feelings, there are services out there to listen and help! Call Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.