Cape Town, South Africa – MySociaLife, the pioneering EdTech company, has been honoured as one of South Africa’s top five start-ups at the esteemed Heavy Chef Awards 2023, dedicated to supporting rising businesses across the nation. After a rigorous selection process, MySociaLife emerged victorious from an initial pool of 120 companies, further narrowed down to 12 finalists with five being awarded ‘Winner’ status on the night. Previous winners include Jumo, Yoco, DataProphet, Sweep South and Valenture Institute.
The other noteworthy finalists included Ambani, GoBuddy, mbrk, Mindjoy, Plentify, Stitch, and Xhuma, and the four accompanying winners were Botlahle AI Solutions, Strove, Everlectric, and Jem.
MySociaLife has earned a powerful run of recognition this year in different countries, reaching the Final 13 in the ‘Global EdTech StartUp Awards Africa’, shortlisted as the ‘Best Product to Promote Wellbeing’ in Schools at the GESS Dubai Awards in November, and was recently nominated for the ‘Global Silicon Valley 50’ (GSV 50) Cup in 2024. Its comprehensive program educates teens, preteens, teachers, parents, clinical psychologists, and school counselors. Its primary aim is to assist children in navigating the complexities of online life through an ecosystem of relatable training on the hot pop culture topics of each month, combined with adult support in which parents and teachers become more cognizant of the reality of social media and AI challenges and opportunities.
Dean McCoubrey, the Founder of MySociaLife, said, “We have different training programs for various ages and also for the custodians (teachers and parents). Our recent launch of ‘One Life’, a pioneering social media current affairs video show created and presented by Gen Z students, is a balanced and honest look at the ups and downs of complicated digital and social dynamics which affect self-esteem, impact attention, focus, wellbeing, and cause distress, something which is hard to decipher or share with others. It’s a result of adapting to how kids consume media, and how you can deliver a lesson to them.”
In recent years, the company committed to pursuing feedback as a central pillar of its work and has received profound insight into an adolescence never seen before, due to the rise of screen time after the pandemic. Children are now the most exposed and tracked by platforms at any time in history.
Anonymous surveys, not tracked or shared with anyone, are sent out by schools or sent to parents, teachers, and psychologists over the past five years and have consistently highlighted the significant impact of MySociaLife’s relatable content on online behavior and perspectives on campus and in homes. “If you don’t listen, pause to collate what everyone is saying, and then approach carefully you will lose this audience, and their engagement is the difference between success and failure.”
The company is poised to launch a new parenting product in January 2024, in response to the rapid advancements in AI, social media, and VR.
McCoubrey explains, “We are wholly pro-technology, responsibly. This pace will not relent. We will have to work with it and manage ourselves throughout this relationship with innovation. Policymakers are slow, inventors are fast. Educators and commentators will have to act as an intermediary to expand our critical thinking. With the first birthday of OpenAI’s ChatGPT last week, and the drama around Sam Altman leaving and returning, it reveals that dedication to modern education on this stratospheric evolution is critical. Our children must have an invested mentor in this area.”
McCoubrey continues, “Over and above the various awards and recognition, we think that we became the best interpreters of Generation Z (age 11 to 26) and Generation Alpha (under 11) partly due to timing and experience in doing this for almost five years, and partly due to deeply listening to what adults and children are saying about their online lives. We don’t push one side or other. MySociaLife listens, we interrogate, we debate, and kids have to think deeply beyond their automated responses in which they’re ‘hot on the button’, due to the stage of development of their prefrontal cortex. Basically, we have to work harder and faster at modern life skills to guide our kids to better outcomes, mentally, emotionally, physically, and academically.”
Expressing his gratitude and surprise at the win, acknowledging the value of the Heavy Chef community in the company’s journey, he added, “Winning in the top five start-ups across all industries in South Africa is beyond a surprise but very welcome after all the hard work.” He emphasized the importance of digital citizenship in today’s world, where media consumption profoundly influences our worldview and actions, underscoring the need for a great job with our kids. This effort will impact areas like climate change, empathy, leadership, and ESG. The technology will not just deliver a brighter future, it will require human inputs too.
Looking ahead, MySociaLife is set to expand its reach internationally and launch its anticipated parenting program in January 2024, further cementing its position as the country’s leader in online safety and digital literacy.
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