(San Francisco, CA –Sept 17, 2018) – After receiving numerous submissions from across the country, #Digital4Good invited 15 students to celebrate digital leadership in social media at Google’s Community Space in San Francisco. Included in the group were Heritage High School students Chloe Schilling and Cason Kurowski, who were selected for their work with OFFLINE OCTOBER, an event they created that challenged people to give up social media during October 2017.
Schilling and Kurowski started the OFFLINE OCTOBER project after recognizing that too often social media created negative feelings among users. By encouraging participants to reduce their time online, they could develop better face-to-face communication skills, maintain and manage strong friendships, and become happier in their overall well-being. The OFFLINE OCTOBER project had over 3,300 participants from 324 schools in 28 states and 3 countries.
During their presentation at the conference, Schilling noted that “social media has become a huge part of everyone’s life - and there are positive outcomes with it. But many people use it in a negative way, and its become an addiction. OFFLINE OCTOBER was designed to give kids a break - put down your phone and spend more time with friends and family - in person, not from behind a screen.”
The selected students were nominated by a member of their community and then evaluated by a panel of students, educators, and industry representatives. While there are numerous stories about tech misuse, the #Digital4Good award winners were recognized for using digital media for good. #Digital4Good is spearheaded by #ICANHELP, a non-profit organization committed to empowering students to play an active role in improving the online environment.
The September 17th event was #ICANHELP’s second national event, and was meant to raise awareness of the power of student voices for social good in social media. Co-founder Kim Karr explained that, “#ICANHELP has worked with over 300,000 students to be the digital change they want to see.” Co-founder Matt Soeth added, “The focus is always too much on the negative, and we have some amazing youth out there making a difference. We want students to inspire students to be digital leaders.”
By uniting a broad range of students, educators, and industry people, the #Digital4Good event represents a student-centered, student-led approach to solving some of the complicated issues and social problems with tech use - students as part of the solution, not the problem. By raising awareness and offering real-world best practices, #Digital4Gpood celebrate the many examples of students using digital for good.