Social media changed society and continues to mold it, often in negative ways. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and other sites can be platforms for hate and cyberbullying.
So what if kids could only use social media for positive interactions? That’s what a new anti-bullying program called Bridg-it is trying to create. It’s an interactive, app-based system that encourages kids to support one another by sending what they call “shoutouts” which can be seen on monitors around any given school.
“They’re talking about it all the time, they send them to me, I send them back, so it’s really promoted this whole culture of kindness within the school and among the student body,” said Stephanie Saban, principal of Coral Cove Elementary School in Miramar.
It’s one of a handful of schools in South Florida using the program.
On this day, a delegation from the Miami Heat organization came to the school to reward the kids for using Bridg-it extensively, creating the climate of kindness the system is designed to foster.
Former all-star Heat player Glen Rice and former assistant coach and broadcaster Tony Fiorentino spoke to a class of fourth-graders about the evils of bullying and ways every student can prevent it from happening.
“You see someone sitting alone, go up and approach ‘em, don’t be afraid to try and get to know ‘em,” Rice said, citing one example of how students can show compassion to their peers.
So positivity is the message being promoted by the Heat and by the creator of Bridg-it, Jeff Ervine.
“We’re attacking bullying from a lens of positivity, by giving affirmations and recognizing each other, we find out where we’re alike, and as we find out where we’re alike, there’s less conflict, there’s less bullying,” Ervine said.
The goal is to prevent bullying incidents rather than just punish the perpetrators after they happen.
“Default to kindness, teach positive digital communication so it becomes a habit,” Ervine explained.
“When Glen and I come here and get out the message about being kind and doing kind deeds, we also want them to give us shoutouts, there’s followups to it so there’s all kinds of advantages with the Bridgit program,” Fiorentino said.
Any effort to prevent the pervasive, destructive problem of bullying is worth a shot, whether it’s from the three-point line or from the computer screens of fourth-graders.
This article and and news segment was originally written and produced by Ari Odzer for NBC 6 South Florida. The original video and article can be viewed here