Clover aims to research, design, and deploy a new social platform for young people that promotes positive identity development and a sense of belonging. We believe that environment shapes behavior and that toxic online environments are by design. Hate speech, social comparison, tech addiction This new online space will challenge the harmful design conventions of traditional social media - such as vanity metrics and its broadcast nature - that has resulted in shallow social connections, inauthentic self-expression, and erosion of self-worth. Ultimate success for Clover is developing a platform that has a positive, measurable impact on wellbeing.
Today’s teens are the first ever generation to join social media in middle school. During their most formative years of development, they are consumed by platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, and it’s shaping their self-worth and identity. Exponential trends in teen rates of anxiety, depression, and even hospitalizations and suicide can be traced to the mass adoption of social media. While young people are more “connected” digitally than ever before, traditional social media leaves many young people feeling emotionally and spiritually alone. Social media is not going away, but teens need a third space where they can forge more intimate connections around the topics that meaningfully impact their lives and identities.
The Clover team is engaging in a human-centered design process, working closely with teens and experts to design, test and iterate potential solutions. Since fall of 2020, the Clover team conducted in-depth qualitative research, hosted co-design sessions with teens from across the country, and engaged experts in the field of youth development and media. After generating and testing dozens of platform ideas, the team has narrowed in on a new type of online space they’re calling a ‘social dialogue network.’ This new type of space is centered around live, small-group conversation about the topics that matter most. Currently we are developing an MVP, which we plan on taking into pilot testing in the summer of 2022.