Episode 28: Making the internet a safer place

Rossin Connection Podcast


Rossin Connection Podcast: Dominic DiFranzo

There’s no question that the internet has long replaced traditional hangouts (anyone remember malls?), especially for kids. There’s also no question that too much of what they encounter online is often toxic, misleading, or simply wrong.

Dominic DiFranzo and his team have developed a tool, called Social Media TestDrive, to help kids better navigate their virtual worlds. The tool allows kids to learn digital literacy skills around topics like cyberbullying and misinformation on a simulated social media platform.

The team launched the platform in 2019, and since then, has partnered with Common Sense Media to adapt Social Media TestDrive into the organization’s K-12 digital literacy curriculum. To date, more than 1 million kids have used it.

“They can make mistakes,” says DiFranzo. “They can try things out, and it doesn't go to the real internet. It gives them that hands-on experience, without the real consequences.”

In this episode, DiFranzo talks about the inspiration for research, how tools like Social Media TestDrive work, and why he won’t stop working toward the elusive goal of a safer internet.