SOURCE: After School

After School

August 04, 2016 11:00 ET

After School CEO Michael Callahan to Speak About Teens, Anonymity at TEDxNormal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - August 04, 2016) - After School Co-Founder and CEO Michael Callahan, an Illinois native, will speak at TEDxNormal 2016 on October 22 in Normal, Illinois. The tech entrepreneur and inventor will speak on a controversial topic -- social anonymity, and why it's vital for teens.

With millions of users in over 80% of U.S. high schools, the San Francisco-based After School is the nation's largest social network dedicated to teens. The network allows teenagers to share and connect with other students from their school, and have the ability to use their name or remain anonymous when using the network.

During its test launch in November of 2014, the app sparked concerns about potential bullying, illegal activity, and threats happening under the veil of anonymity on the network. In April of 2015, After School released a new version of the app with threat detection, human moderation, access to Crisis Counselors, and a zero tolerance policy against cyberbullying. The company now partners with many national and global nonprofit organizations to provide support and community service opportunities for its teen users.

Callahan, a victim of bullying and abuse as a child, often felt isolated as a teen. "Being a teenager is never easy. Today's teens face obstacles and pressures from all angles," says Callahan. The internet and social media can amplify these pressures for young people and influence how they use public social networking platforms. "What they post on social media frequently is less about what's on their mind or what they need to get off of their chest, than what they other people want to hear," Callahan continued.

"Anonymity, when provided with support and proper guidelines, changes this equation. With After School, teens now have a safe place to be themselves and talk about difficult topics without the fear of being judged," says Callahan. "Anonymity also provides an opportunity to catch serious problems -- like potential suicide -- early and address them properly. After School's crisis counseling feature has been used by over 70,000 teens already and has saved lives."

Asked why he's returning to Illinois to speak at TEDxNormal, Callahan said, "Anonymity is important in many aspects of life and places around the world, but when it comes to our children, we let fears get in the way of seeing the benefits that can come from it. I want people to know that there are incredible benefits to anonymity and there are companies using it to improve the world, and I'm looking forward to giving that message back in Illinois."

TEDxNormal is the second annual independently held TEDx event in Normal, Illinois, and is a celebration of "anything but normal" according to organizer Doan Winkel. Talks will be available to view after the event on the TEDxNormal YouTube Channel.

For more information about the event or for tickets, visit TEDxNormal.com.

After School is a social network that fosters fun and creative online and offline experiences for America's teens in a positive and safe environment that does not tolerate cyberbullying, threats, or content that threatens the safety of our online community. Millions of students in more than 80% of U.S. high schools, are using After School -- making it the largest social network for teens.

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