Equipping and protecting digital natives

Claire Orange Digii Social
Claire Orange is educating Year 5s and 6s on digital platforms

Claire Orange, through her Perth-based platform Digii Social, is passionate about educating children on how to use digital platforms safely.

Claire has spent the last 25 years working towards understanding and helping children and families achieve physical and mental well-being. Claire’s journey has seen her study and train in speech pathology, naturopathy, clinical hypnotherapy, psychology and counselling, parental coaching, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), cognitive and family therapy.

Claire’s desire to share her experience, knowledge and help as many children and families as possible has led her to become an author and a regular media personality on major Australian news networks.

To top it off, Claire is also a mother of four and now a tech startup CEO & co-founder with Digii Social, an AI-powered social networking platform that allows children to navigate a social media-like environment safely and securely.  

Digii Social teaches children about damaging online behaviours such as bullying, harassment and, how to understand digital literacy and the potential dangers of online life.

Digii Social is rolling out across Australia and other parts of the world with the ambitious goal of reaching every child.

The growing need for online safety within formal education

The digital information age is many things. It’s transformed our economies, the way we communicate and given life to social media platforms and online games where millions of people interact with one another and learn about the world at large.

We now understand that online environments carry with them vitriol and hate. Online bullying, harassment and exploitation are rampant. We know that self-worth and body image are intrinsically tied with people’s social media accounts. We know that dopamine, the chemical responsible for eliciting a pleasure response in the brain, is produced by social media users and online games similarly to drug and gambling addicts. And we know that this is not an accident. Social media and game companies’ prey on our psychology and behaviour, designing products that push our buttons and keep us online.

The only other industry where customers are called ‘users’ – outside the digital economy – is the drug trade.

For generations X, Y and those that came before, we have a reference point. We remember a world without social media, but for today’s children, this is what they know and how they learn. Claire acknowledges, we haven’t been equipping them well enough, and Digii Social is designed for the children of the 21st century who are, as Claire states:

“Born, basically, with an iPad ready for digital life. 36% of Australian pre-primary [school], so five-year-old’s own their own data-enabled devices. So, from a very young age, we have children who are immersed in a world, and they’re out there navigating the globe. We wouldn’t put them in the middle of a foreign city and say, ‘just see how you go’.”

Claire Orange, Digii Social

Claire’s impetus to starting Digii Social came when a young man, aged just 14, committed suicide when he became a victim of a barrage of online hate and abuse after a falling out with friends on social media following a breakup.

“… he was publicly humiliated and shamed. Within 24 hours of content going online, he had amassed thousands and thousands of young haters telling him to kill himself, and he did. And that’s a preventable death.”

Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Australia and has seen a steady increase since 2010.

Claire points out that Australia has always emphasised education in schools towards areas that may also cause harm – sun/UV risks, swimming, road safety, wildlife, stranger danger and sexual health.

“Yet the area of health that certainly leads to damage and loss of life to our young people doesn’t have any formal education. So that’s where it [Digii Social] came from. The need to bring cyber education mainstream, into every classroom.”

Every classroom and every child worldwide being equipped with digital learning systems to support them and their well-being is Claire’s goal, whether Digii Social or another platform.

“If not ours [product] at least something, so that we capture every child in those formative years and protect them with this shield. Every child deserves no less than to go into their young adult life protected with knowledge. So terrible things can’t and don’t happen to them.”

With over 30 schools across Australia rolling out Digii Social and making headway into China, New Zealand, the UK, this incredible Perth startup is on track to bring positive change to children everywhere.

Watch the full interview here, or above.