On July 25, fifteen high school interns from the My Digital TAT2 (MDT2) visited After School headquarters in San Francisco. MDT2 is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit that’s encouraging digital kindess by delivering face-to-face workshops and seminars for students, parents, educators, health care providers, and business professionals.
Each summer, the organization hosts an internship that gives teens the opportunity to help develop, update, and improve MDT2’s content and messages. One of the highlights for the interns is visiting Silicon Valley companies and getting a behind-the-scenes look at how they operate. This year, interns visited companies including Facebook, Pinterest, After School, Box, and several others.
After School is focused on improving the lives of young people. We can only do that if we listen to and understand them, and change based on what they want and need. We looked at this visit as an opportunity to have a two-way exchange. We began by having the teens tell us about themselves, from what they learned during their internship, to how they viewed internet culture, to what they hoped to achieve in their lifetime.
Next, After School CEO Michael Callahan explained how and why he created After School, describing how bullying, mental health, and suicide impacted his youth. Callahan also described what it is like to begin and grow a business, and answered an array of questions about how the company deals with challenges and what it has in store for the future.
The interns were curious and asked great questions, including how After School works with Crisis Text Line and whether the benefits and risks of anonymity on social media outweigh the risks. As an anonymous social network, After School employs additional safety measures to protect users and allow teens using the app to immediately remove a potentially harmful post from their schools feed.
We then tapped into the teens’ experience by having them help us improve a new product — a GIF-based keyboard called QuicKey. Callahan explained the ins and outs of the new product and put the interns through an exercise where each chose their favorite images based on their preferences and explained why.
”We all came away a lot smarter,” said Jeff Collins, After School’s VP. “We are grateful for their time, and would like to thank Erica, Lillian, and Gloria for working with us to arrange the trip, and for the amazing work they are doing to make the internet a kinder place,” he concluded. To learn more about MDT2, visit mydigitaltat2.org.