If you’re the parent of a high school student, you may have heard of, or even dealt with problems arising from school-based anonymous social media accounts – specifically Confession Pages, Online Beauty Contests and general online trolls.
We tweeted last week about @BCHSAnonymous, an anonymous Kentucky high school Twitter account at Boyle County High School that is moving things in the exact opposite direction. She has been tweeting positive messages at her school since January, and is lifting spirits and genuinely making people happy.
We reached out to the person behind the account and he/she graciously agreed to talk to us and tell his/her story. No, we’re not going to divulge the true identity (we don’t even know it).
Thanks for agreeing to talk today. I’m going to respect your anonymity, but is there anything you’d like to tell me about yourself?
Well, I am a teenager and an internet addict – I spend an awful lot of time online and on social media. When I’m online, I see so much cyberbullying and hatred. As a matter of fact, I’ve had a couple of friends who committed suicide over cyberbullying.
I believe it’s preventable (the cyberbullying and the suicide) and I guess that’s why I’m doing this.
How did you come up with the idea?
I wanted to do something positive. I made the account over Christmas break and started in January. I tweet positive things about students, staff and teachers.
How has the reaction been?
The reaction has been fantastic. The account’s followers are mostly students, and a pretty good representation of both boys and girls.
If students agree with what I tweeted, they tend to retweet or respond. When I tweet about a person, they are almost always very appreciative.
When I tweet about someone, sometimes they’ll send me a DM [a private message] telling me that this helps so much, as they’re struggling with problems at home or with self-image.
It’s neat that 140 characters can brighten someone’s day. I have gotten so much out of doing it.
How much time do you spend on the account?
I usually send one compliment per day, so I’m on Twitter every day, and sometimes for a long time. I get lots of feedback that I need to read and respond to.
Does anyone know your real identity?
One of my cousins guessed my identity soon after I started the account. She texted me and said that the writing sounded like mine, which is kind of scary. She has kept it a secret, though. Other than that, one teacher who I’m very close to knows it’s me, and the principal knows. He loves that it’s so positive.
I hear speculation all the time about who is behind the account, but it’s still a mystery.
How would you feel if people know it was you?
I wouldn’t mind people knowing that I’m the person behind it, but I’m not looking to receive a pat on the back. All I’ve done is point out all of the good things that are already happening. The positivity of the account is a result of the staff and students at my school.
Why did you choose Twitter? Why not Facebook or Instagram?
Well, Twitter is more popular at my school, and I like the functionality. DMs and replies are easy, and I can tag people in posts.
Thoughts on social media platforms like Ask.fm and Yik Yak that seems like they’re up to no good?
I don’t believe anyone creates a social media platform just for bad behavior. There are always good things you can get from social media. As a matter of fact, this (@BCHSAnonymous) is a case of anonymous being good. People at our school – in person and online – are very worried about what other people think, and tend to act a certain way. When I tweet anonymously, they are able to answer honestly. I think that’s great.
When they respond in a way that you wouldn’t expect them to, it shows that everyone needs a pick me up once in a while. When you’re nice to begin with, even if anonymously, it brings out something great in people.
Well, right after I started the account, someone else started @BOCOConfessions, and was just tweeting negatives. The account got reported several times, and ended up being deleted.
What are your plans for the account?
I do have a plan for the account when I graduate, but I don’t want to say what it is.
Do you have a message for students who feel like they’re in a bad situation?
I do. Never feel guilty for feeling a certain way. It’s okay to not be okay but always look for the good.
How about a message for parents who might not know exactly what is going on with their kids?
Your kid may be having a tough time. Listen without judgment. Kids are turning to strangers (I know) because they can talk without judgment. Kids want to be loved and want someone who is for them and not against them.
Boyle County High School has 900 students, and this noble Twitter account has garnered 600 followers in 4 1/2 months. Clearly he/she is doing something right.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.