Appreciate a Mate on National Compliments Day

New app for young people counters cyberbullying and spreads positivity online.

To coincide with National Compliments Day, Young and Well CRC has today launched a free Appreciate A Mate app. CEO Associate Professor Jane Burns: ‘This new app – based on evidence that gratitude is good for you – gives young people a simple digital tool to share compliments with each other, starting a positive cycle of online communication.’

Appreciate A Mate is a friendly app that instantly generates messages of appreciation. You can shake it, swipe it and mix up the colours on over 50 positive messages. The app makes it easy for young people to share positivity online.

This innovative campaign takes a new approach to tackling cyberbullying and poor self-esteem in young people. Partner The Butterfly Foundation provided expert advice in understanding how the campaign could best promote positive body image, build self-esteem and reassurance, and hundreds of young people also influenced the campaign.

‘Young people told us the building blocks of self-esteem were acceptance and feeling valued by the people closest to them – their friends and family. This is entirely consistent with international evidence. They gave us feedback on the campaign idea and even wrote the messages that you see in the app,’ Associate Professor Burns said.

Fourteen-year-old campaign collaborator Lotte Beckett: ‘I think Appreciate A Mate is a fantastic way to improve the mental health of young people, and change the way we think about the effect our words have, in both a broad and personal context,’ while co-collaborator Belle Campbell, also 14, noted: ‘Appreciate A Mate is the perfect way to channel the influential powers of social media into a healthy and supportive tool – it’s engaging and easy for young people to utilise.’

‘The Appreciate A Mate app is very quick and simple to use to compliment your friends or family. Real positive messages create positive self-esteem and boost confidence. How you feel about your body is connected to how you feel in general – a simple message or compliment from a friend can make all the difference,’ said Christine Morgan, CEO, The Butterfly Foundation.

Young and Well CRC partner and campaign Project Manager, Bernadine Brewer of Sydney-based digital consultancy Zuni, said: ‘Working with Digital Arts Network, we built on this insight by tapping into young people’s current online habits to create a campaign that facilitates positive communication between peers. By providing young people with a tool that works for them and how they prefer to communicate, we have an opportunity to really influence a change in online behaviour.’

The campaign kicked off in July 2013, with hundreds of positive compliments spreading their way across websites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. The compliments were in the form of beautiful illustrated images with positive sentiments like ‘Don’t ever change,’ ‘Your smile makes me smile’ and even ‘Your face makes Facebook better.’ Since then, almost 26,000 of these images have been created and shared by young people across Australia.

‘The campaign reached and exceeded our targets so quickly and young Australians were asking us when they could download Appreciate A Mate as an app,’ explained Bernadine. ‘We were delighted to be able to take the campaign one step further by releasing the new iPhone app and we’re hoping to flood the internet with positivity in 2014!’

An initiative of Young and Well CRC led by the University of South Australia in conjunction with the University of Western SydneyZuni and the Queensland University of Technology, Safe and Well Online builds upon the original Smart Online, Safe Offline initiative developed by the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.

Appreciate A Mate is now available for free download from the App Store; android and desktop users can access the campaign here.

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17th International Mental Health Conference
Posted: 23 January, 2014

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