📱Buzz , Buzz: You have a new notification.
One summer day at the end of 9th grade, in the millisecond between the buzz and the Pavlovian response to grab for my phone, I, Emma Lembke, did something I had never done before. I asked myself why I was responding this way to all my digital notifications.
I began researching—hoping to find a suitable explanation for my connection to devices and apps. One question led to hundreds more. I found myself engrossed in articles detailing the harm social media had been doing to my mental health all along.
It dawned on me: I was a willing victim of emotional manipulation. I knew something had to be done to provide a platform for other teenagers to have their millisecond of clarity and escape the corrosive cycle of social media addiction.
On July 1, 2020, a few friends and I launched LOG OFF.
I realized very quickly I was not the only one intrigued by social media and technology’s impact on teens. We have grown to include over 70 youth digital advocates from 18 different countries. Saanvi Sundaram and Celine Bernhardt-Lanier joined the movement, each with their own unique story with tech and social media.
Celine recalls her “digital awakening” that precipitated her passion for digital wellbeing: “In 2017, at only thirteen years old, I was getting lost going down a rabbit hole of excessive social media use and hyperconnectivity. I felt pressure to post idealized versions of my life, which caused me constant anxiety, stress, and fear of not being valued. Until one day, I was with a group of my closest friends who were each looking down into their phones -- and something clicked. How were we so deeply connected to the web but completely disconnected from each other?”
Conversely, Saanvi found herself feeling “otherly” for not gravitating toward popular social apps: “When everyone in my class went on Insta, I didn't. So when the hot conversation topics shifted towards who has more followers, I had nothing to say about it."
"And I'd always wondered, why did the people I've known for years now suddenly find the video about the talking dog more interesting than the basketball game we were watching? I didn't find myself drawn to social media, yet I found myself affected by the impact it had on all the people around me. I missed out on birthdays and other parties, on inside jokes that had others rolling on the floor, on friends I thought I had connected with.”
Initially, the movement consisted of a website, blog, and Instagram—all dedicated to furthering dialogue about the multifaceted nature of social media and promoting the healthy usage of it. We have grown— adding a podcast, multiple leadership groups, a legislative advocacy campaign, and an array of initiatives, such as ones dedicated to education and wellbeing.
Saanvi reflects on her time as the Director of Education: “The Character Education Curriculum gave me the opportunity to educate other children and teens on their smartphones, not telling them not to use it, but telling them how to use it wisely. With a team of more than 15 passionate teenagers from around the world, I hope Character ED finds its way into schools and homes alike, and helps people become more aware of using technology more responsibly, and has an impact on children and adults around the world.”
Similarly, Celine shares her experience as the Director of Wellbeing: “I launched a wellbeing initiative to help teens connect better with others, their true selves, and nature. Through the global LOG OFF movement, I help empower youth to normalize the joys and challenges of technology, create authentic connection, and promote mindful phone use. By shifting our tech habits to align with our values and true humanity, we can shape our digital world for the better, and help others to do the same.”
The LOG OFF Movement continues to advocate for digital change by building a community of teens wishing to spread consciousness across our generation, so that we all can leave the echo of a buzzing notification behind us. If you are a teen and would like to learn more about the movement, visit our take action page to explore our many opportunities for youth engagement.
About the Emma Lembke, CEO of LOG OFF: "Hi, I'm Emma! I came up with the preliminary idea for LOG OFF after I noticed social media's negative effect on my mental health. The constant bombardment with a never ending feed worsened my anxiety and left me instilled with unrealistic expectations for my life and the way I look.
After about two years, I took a hiatus from social media in order to reflect on ways to better my experience on these apps. I knew there was a need for a platform to discuss the duality of social media in its entirety and to teach healthy ways to use it. With the help of my other co-founders, the dream has become a reality in the form of the LOG OFF movement! I hope LOG OFF will serve as a catalyst for change and a platform to highlight young voices. I cannot wait to further explore the issue at hand and to expand the movement across the globe!"