If you've been on YouTube, you know that you might find the funniest, cutest videos ever. You might see babies giggling and super-cute kittens being — what else? — super-cute.
But you also might find not-so-nice stuff there, too. Even on the sweet and funny videos, people sometimes leave rude or mean comments.
In her own little corner of YouTube, Emily-Anne Rigal won't put up with that. Her YouTube channel is called "We Stop Hate" and on it she welcomes videos from people who agree to these three simple rules:
Don't make fun of people who are different from you.
Think positive — not negative thoughts — about yourself.
Pick friends who make you happy, not stressed.
Middle school is an especially good time to start working on those goals, Emily-Anne said.
"The gossip that went on during middle school was outrageous," she said. "It was almost all we talked about! If I could go back to the beginning of middle school, I would have told myself to not stress about rumors and gossip as much."
Emily-Anne believes personal videos can help spread a positive message that everyone needs to hear. So far, more than 20 YouTubers have submitted videos to the channel. The list even includes a few celebrity videos from Disney stars Mitchel Musso and Monique Coleman.
The videos are a source of encouragement and advice from people who have learned a thing or two, even though most of them are still in high school. One teen boy said he thinks of teasing as negative energy that he can turn into positive energy. It's as simple as telling someone "I like your hair" or "nice shoes."
"The next time someone makes fun of you, turn right around and give someone a compliment," he said in his video. "Make someone else's day."
"Be who you are," advised Strawburry17. "That's how you make the friends you want to keep."
Ninth grader Emma, also known as "Funny With Freckles," says she wears her We Stop Hate bracelet to school every day.
It reminds me that it's OK to be different ... it's OK to just be you," she said in her video. "I always look at it and it reminds me that I shouldn't let the little stuff bother me."
Oceangela said she uses the bracelet to challenge herself. She tries not to think negative things about herself or other people. If she fails, she moves the bracelet from one wrist to the other wrist. When she goes 21 days without having to move it, she celebrates.
"Once you get in the habit, you won't even need the bracelet anymore," Oceangela said.
Now she's using the bracelet challenge to ensure that she gets exercise or at least spends time outside every single day. "You need to be good to yourself," she said.
Emily-Anne agrees and said that she's happiest when she's doing stuff she truly enjoys and not worrying so much about what everyone else thinks. She spends a lot of her time making videos of all sorts and would like to have her own TV show. She even has a YouTube stage name: Schmiddlebopper.
At 14, she began hosting a weekly radio segment, "Teens Going Green," at a local station. She's also president of the group at her high school that does the daily TV news announcements. And she was just honored with an award at the Allykatzz.com Tween Summit for starting We Stop Hate. If that's not enough, she just built her own website.
True accomplishments — like getting an A, learning to cook, or making a sports team — can definitely boost your self-esteem. But Emily-Anne thinks we all need a few cheerleaders, too.
"After giving something your all, the feeling of success and accomplishment is one of the best feelings in the world," she said. "Nevertheless, sometimes knowing another person believes in you can help give you a needed confidence boost."