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On New Year’s Day, millions of people all over the world watched the 129th annual Rose Parade usher in 2018 with the theme, ‘Making a Difference.’ Several floats highlighted the theme, as “a way to honor and celebrate…the human acts of kindness that enrich the lives of others and are the source of inspiration, hope, joy and optimism for all of us.” A few weeks earlier, CBS Sunday Morning heralded the amazing efforts of organizations like Think Kindness that spark “kindness movements” in schools and communities across the United States and create programs that not only talk about being kind, but inspire people to take action too.
While social media of late has distanced us from one another and much-needed face-to-face human contact is on the decline, we as humans are tribal and our need to make physical human contact with each other is stronger than ever. Why else would 500,000 people huddle together in Times Square, armed with selfie-taking cellphones in zero-degree weather and no bathrooms in sight, just to ring in the new year?
As Fielding Graduate University’s Media Psychology expert Dr. Pamela Rutledge explains, “social connection and validation are primary drivers of human behavior. When we feel valued, we are happier. When we’re happier, the people around us are likely to be, too.”
Corporations and mobile app developers have taken notice and are taking advantage of the power of social technologies by encouraging people to share good deeds. Take Honda for example, who sponsored the “Make A Difference” Rose Parade and supports a "Random Acts of Helpfulness" campaign. The company uses social media to shore up funding and raise positive awareness of this campaign. Additionally, T-Mobile, whose #HR4HR (Home Runs for Hurricane Recovery) campaign raised $2.78 million for Team Rubicon's hurricane recovery efforts, uses social media to promote human empathy in our nation and across the world. And why shouldn't they? "After all," Rutledge continues, “emotions can travel on networks just like YouTube videos.”
There’s something you can in your own backyard to make the world a kinder, gentler place, starting with your own kids!
Check out these 5 great mobile apps, two of which were invented by teenage entrepreneurs. They are all free and have been designed to reduce cyberbullying and promote kindness and inclusiveness at home and in our schools. You too can make a difference by paying it forward and sharing them with your kids, your schools, family, and friends!
Cynthia Lieberman is co-Founder, CyberWise.org and owner of Lieberman Communications, a content marketing and PR consultancy firm for Fortune 500 companies. Equipped with a graduate degree in Media Psychology and Social Change, Lieberman is a Board of Director for the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE). She teaches Social Media Marketing at UCLA Extension and recently served as an Adjunct Professor in Mass Communications at California State University, Northridge.