Who am I? Where do I fit in? Who do I want to be? We all ask ourselves these questions. During adolescence, young people start to explore, experiment and figure out who they are. Shaped by family, environment, culture, education and other factors, they face complex choices and challenges in their quest for identity and independence.
Supporting our BAME and LGBTQ+ community
In recent weeks, the issue of identity has been high on the news agenda. After the tragic death of George Floyd, many people have been speaking out against racism and taking part in the #BlackLivesMatter protests. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has also shone a spotlight on inequalities – for example, UK studies have found significantly higher mortality rates among ethnic minorities.
When research firm Ypulse asked teenagers and young adults in the US ‘What is the biggest problem your generation faces right now?’ The answer was: racism and discrimination. Our own poll of Yubo users in the US (14 June 2020) revealed that 88% feel that Black Americans are treated differently to others. 86% of respondents think that peaceful protests/political demonstrations are necessary to create a significant change and 77% have posted on social media to support equality for Black Americans.
Pride Month, which celebrated LGBTQ+ communities all over the world in June, has also reminded everyone of the importance of equality and tolerance. Here at Yubo, we partnered with three organisations – Switchboard in the UK, The Trevor Project in the US and Le Refuge in France – to support Pride and promote diversity. You can find out more about these partnerships in this video.
“Together, we have worked on a campaign that aims to promote acceptance and affirmation of one’s identity,” explains Natasha Walker, Co-Chair at Switchboard. “Thought-provoking messages such as ‘Am I the only one who feels like this?’, ‘I feel trapped in my body’ and ‘If this is who I am, why do I feel ashamed?’ were sent to Yubo’s teenage users in the UK, in a bid to encourage those who are struggling with their gender identity and sexuality to telephone the helpline for support.”
Providing a support system
The digital world has become a fundamental part of young people’s identity over the last decade – a space in which they can discover who they are and grow as a person. Indeed, more than a third (38%) of respondents to a survey by the UK Safer Internet Centre (UKSIC) said they find it easier to be themselves online.
As psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos notes in this video, young people increasingly “crowdsource” their identity online. “Social media, as well as being a way of communicating and connecting, is also a way of gauging what people think about you,” she says. “So, a lot of times, posts are about seeing how accepted you are, how valued you are, where you fit in. Your behaviour online begins to be shaped by the responses that you get.”
Of course, you might get a really positive response. As this article in Pink News shows, Yubo can offer a vital support system. 18-year-old Thee Amir live-streams make-up tutorials on the app and describes joining our community as “life-changing” because of the support he has received from other LGBTQ+ young people.
Zero tolerance for online hate
With almost 30 million users, we have a responsibility to help younger members of the Yubo community to develop a positive identity. The recent UKSIC survey found that a quarter (25%) of 13 to 17-year-olds had been bullied or attacked online because of their sexuality, race, religion, disability or gender identity. We have zero tolerance for bullying and discrimination – we provide industry-leading safety tools and take action against reports of racism, homophobia and other online hate on our platform.
As the BLM protests continue and Pride Month comes to a close, we’re more determined than ever to make Yubo a positive, diverse and compassionate community. That includes supporting young people as they develop their identity and increase their self-esteem. As the famous quote goes, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”.
Yubo’s tips for promoting positive identity online
- Be proud of who you are – don’t pretend to be something you’re not or filter out any aspects of your life.
- Be kind to others – nasty comments can be extremely hurtful and might even be illegal so always think before you post.
- Be vigilant – if you or someone else experiences discrimination or harassment on Yubo, report it to us immediately so we can take action.
Useful websites and helplines:
Beyond Blue (Australia)
Kids Help Phone (Canada)
Le Refuge (France)
LGBT Youthline (Canada)
Teen Line (US)
The Mix (UK)
The Trevor Project (US)