Everything you need to know about the Pledge
The ultimate goal of the Pledge is simple: a safer and healthier internet for everyone, especially young people. We know that we’re not going to solve the problem overnight, and that it takes a committed effort by multiple groups of stakeholders. However, by putting forward an approachable framework with measured steps, and by committing to work collectively, we can pursue necessary, positive change.
Short term, we will consider the Pledge successful when dozens of companies of varying sizes and types from within the digital ecosystem have signed on to pursue intentional, collaborative change.
Longer term, a successful effort will involve collaborative cross-company and cross-industry learning and will have made measurable changes to improve emotional wellbeing outcomes within the digital ecosystem.
By committing to work together in ways that are appropriate for each company’s business practices, we can accelerate the rate of change across the digital ecosystem. We know that regulation can be years in the making and ultimately incomplete in addressing systemic challenges that affect young people’s emotional wellbeing.
The Pledge is designed to create steady change in ways that are specific to each signatory and that scaffold, year over year. By committing to the pursuit of healthier outcomes on platforms and with products, alongside other company goals, we can create faster, more lasting change.
We know that the brain takes until about age 25-26 to fully develop. We also know that children are engaging with media, technology, and advertising as young as infancy. Anyone who creates or advertises products or services within the digital ecosystem, whether those are aimed at toddlers or young adults, has a role to play in building a healthier online world. Therefore, we define young people broadly, as covering ages 0 to 26.
While industry players have pledged many commitments over the years, never have public awareness, understanding, and demand on these issues been so aligned and heightened. Unlike many other pledges or commitments, this Pledge was not launched by a corporate entity but by the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital, a leading research and health-focused organization with a mission to deepen our understanding of the positive and negative effects of tech and media on young people’s wellbeing. The Lab’s independent, foundational, and public health-derived approach to tech and media encourages authentic engagement by the digital ecosystem. By consulting with Pinterest as a founding signatory, the Lab was able to develop a Pledge that is not only optimistic and health-focused but that has relevance and feasibility within the corporate world.
In addition to technology companies, we have been intentional about ensuring that the Pledge invites participation by those who operate within the broader digital ecosystem. Corporate advertisers, hardware and service providers, and influencers have a key role to play in designing and maintaining a healthy, productive digital experience, and we believe that it is important to ensure that they are at the table alongside tech and media companies.
The Pledge is designed to be substantive by taking intentional steps that are relevant for each signatory. With an independent convener in the Digital Wellness Lab and the involvement of non-tech signatories from advertising, media, and other corporations, we can ensure that the conversation expands to include the broader digital ecosystem, beyond the traditional tech companies. We are also inviting “supporters” to participate; these are organizations that engage on the front lines of young people’s emotional and physical wellbeing who issue a statement of support and take part in the conversations with signatories to help push the conversation about making the internet a healthier, more positive space for young people.
We know that even the best of intentions can be scrutinized, and we’re committed to coming to the table to find common ground. The Digital Wellness Lab established this Pledge based on both research and clinical insights about young people’s mental wellbeing in a tech-saturated world and on the realities of today’s business and regulatory landscapes.
We are clear that this is one piece of a complex, system-wide puzzle. The pledge is a high level commitment to making progress toward getting it right and learning from one another. We will not be able to meaningfully address substantive issues in online health and safety without working across industries and companies to dig in to messy work, together.
While some may minimize, criticize, or attempt to poke holes in these collective efforts, it remains important and impactful for this diverse group of signatories to come to the table to find common ground and do the work. No solution can be found without this foundation and we are committed to ensuring that this foundation is solid. Progress is more important than perfection and we are proud to be launching a Pledge that complements the considerable efforts being made across corporations and regulatory bodies to keep everyone, especially young people, safe and healthy in a digital world.
Supporters are those organizations that operate on the front lines of the global mental health crisis. These organizations have deep knowledge, expertise, research, and resources to bring to bear in addressing questions about how to build a healthier digital ecosystem for everyone, especially young people. Supporter organizations have important information and skills to support signatory companies in designing and pursuing meaningful commitments with impactful outcomes.
Mental health and emotional wellbeing are complex issues that require an ecosystem approach. While tech, media, and advertisers have an important role to play in making the internet a safer, healthier place, tech alone cannot solve the problem.
Signatories will create company-specific commitments, or short statements of how they will pursue the Pledge principles over a one-year period. All commitments will be made publicly available on the Pledge website.
Over the course of the year, the Digital Wellness Lab and fellow travelers in the digital wellness space will provide third-party research, expertise, and guidance to support signatories in pursuing their commitments. At the end of the year, the Lab will convene signatories for a share out of achievements, challenges, and lessons learned. The Lab will publish an annual report on the collective progress made and goals for the coming year following that annual convening.
The Pledge is not a legally-binding agreement and no audits will be conducted. Signatories are asked to engage authentically and transparently and to make commitments that are right for their companies in a way that moves the needle for mental and emotional wellbeing outcomes.
The Digital Wellness Lab will release an annual report describing the collective progress made and the goals for the coming year. To encourage cross-company and cross-industry learning and sharing, information shared in closed-door meetings of signatories will be kept confidential.
Importantly, The Digital Wellness Lab’s work is independent and publicly-accessible. The Lab will make all commitments and annual reports available on the Pledge website.
Every Pledge signatory’s reality is different. The Pledge is a shared commitment to making the internet a healthier place for everyone, especially young people. Each signatory is welcome to make the commitments that work best for the realities of their business today while contributing to the broader effort to building a healthier digital ecosystem. Signatories differ in size, reach, profit, and focus area. What may, at face value, look like a smaller or less splashy commitment may have outsized impact on a particular community or may be deeply meaningful within that company’s practices.
Working with all signatories and supporters, the Digital Wellness Lab will highlight the collective efforts andcelebrate the common ground established in this initiative. Every commitment made is for the good of the whole, and all signatories can be proud to stand among others willing to work together in meaningful ways.
Principle 3 says: “we commit to sharing best practices, key research findings, and creative solutions across the industry to make the internet a healthier place for everyone—especially young people”. We understand the importance of maintaining proprietary knowledge and we are not asking signatories to share trade secrets and confidential market research. Like in any impactful coalition, the level of sharing is at each signatory company’s discretion.
The ideas behind Principle 3 are that “a rising tide lifts all boats” and that it’s ineffective and inefficient to “reinvent the wheel”. While every signatory will choose to share different levels of information, simply agreeing to hold conversations about lessons learned can accelerate progress and benefit the broader conversation and effort.
Sharing will take place in closed-door sessions between signatories and in broader open forums to discuss system-wide issues affecting mental well-being outcomes in a digital ecosystem. Signatories can choose to share at different levels depending on the scope and reach of the conversation.
Join us in making the internet a healthier place
Joining the Inspired Internet Pledge declares your company’s commitment to making the internet a safer and healthier place for everyone, especially young people.