Better Connected – Girlpower in the age of social media

Social media is being re-defined by younger generations as a tool for positive activism, and the movement inspired mother-daughter team, Tanya and Julia Kyi, to write the children’s book Better Connected (Orca Books Publishers, 2022).

“The good things I saw Julia and her friends accomplish on social media sparked the idea for this book,” explains Kyi.

The project tells the stories of the brave young girls around the world who are using their profiles as tools for activism.

Power of the personal profile

The project began when Julia was in grade 10. When she started on social media, like so many others in her peer group, she used it to socialize.

Mother-daughter team, Tanya and Julia Kyi, wrote the children’s book Better Connected. | Photo courtesy of UBC School of Creative Writing

Now in grade 12, she has learnt much through the project. She woke up to the power of the use of personal profiles for activism.

She hopes the book will be able to share this knowledge, and jumpstart a new generation of girls to use it to encourage social change.

The five chapters in Better Connected include profiles of girls worldwide and their activism, while incorporating tips for youngsters interested in lobbying for change using social media. Each chapter focuses on an important type of social action the girls are undertaking, these include: Education, Activism, Creativity, Diversity, and Community.

Social media, hope and change

Better Connected tells the stories of real girls around the world who used social media to bring about change. Julia, a soon-to-be University of British Columbia (UBC) freshman student, speaks fondly of one girl who she found particularly inspiring: Helena Gualina, an Indigenous teen activist from Ecuador.

Better Connected a guide to empower girls on social media. | Photo courtesy of Orca Book Publishers

Gualina was able to use social media to advocate for land protection, and reach very influential people through the online world in a way she could not have done without social media.

Kyi also recalls the story of a young entrepreneur, Claire Barrow, who was diagnosed with a rare bone disorder when she was eight. She didn’t know anyone who was struggling with similar challenges, so she created an app to connect people from different parts of the world who were affected by rare disorders.

Barrow launched her app when she was 13.

Since then, mother and daughter have effectively used the stories of these young girls to build moving examples for other youngsters who may be inspired to follow in their footsteps.

“[The book is] a really positive optimistic look at what girls can accomplish on social media,” explains Kyi.

Better Connected uniquely focuses on the good that social media can do in the world, in contrast with the negative rap social media usually gets in the news. It demonstrates the positive and inspiring ways young girls can make their mark, and how they do not have to be limited by their age and gender. Furthermore it showcases some truly extraordinary girls who have made a difference already in their young lives.

And Kyi wants young girls to use it.

“[It’s a tool] to build community with others from around the world, who have your passions to achieve pretty great things,” she says.

The book is a fresh take on empowering young girls in our a new rapidly advancing technological age. Pushing the boundaries, the young girls in the book inspire the old generation and the new.

“The way that the girls in the book are able to collaborate and amplify each other’s voices to make themselves heard by adult leaders and politicians, gives me hope for the future of the world,” says Kyi.

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