Catch of the Week #1: Social Isolation vs Social Innovation

Última atualização 26 de Setembro de 2013.

Catch of the Week #1: Social Isolation vs Social Innovation

The Internet will do great things, they said.

It will connect us like never before, they said. Well, it turns out the Internet is doing great things, and it has connected humanity like never before (Skype vs snail mail anyone?) … but with all the articles about Facebook and other social networking sites increasing feelings of loneliness, depression and general unhappiness in many users, it can feel like the promise of the Internet connecting us in amazing new ways is falling flat.


Social Isolation vs Social Innovation

Fortunately, this is a tear in society’s fabric that social innovation is seeking to mend.

  • One fantastic example is the Granny Cloud. This great project started when a professor in Newcastle realized that students with low literacy scores improved the most when they were reading with an adult. This professor, Professor Mitra, also realized that the elderly were a marginalized population at high risk for social isolation. How could the two issues be combined for mutual benefit? Enter, the Granny Cloud. The program began pairing children in Colombia and India with Grannies in the United Kingdom. Each child is paired with a Granny, and the two connect over Skype to read, play games, and discuss issues relevant to the children. The project has the potential to spread like wildfire as well with elderly populations all around the world looking to participate in a community, and children from many different countries requiring help with literacy.


  • Another great initiative that is reducing social isolation through online channels is Reach Out, an information and support service that uses technology to reach youth who may be suffering from mental health issues. Forums, peer-to-peer support and a story page all contribute to this great resource for young people who feel isolated. The underlying idea is to provide a safe and confidential space where youth can discuss different issues. In a world where counselling is expensive and mental health issues are heavily stigmatized, this safe space allows anyone with a computer to connect with a sympathetic network.


These great organizations are just two examples of the many, many projects that exist to connect people online and address societal issues around the world. When the overwhelming majority of news in the world is negative, it is great to know that projects like these are working hard to ensure positive connections in people’s lives.


Do you know of any projects? Share them with the I4P community!

Here is a list of other projects adressing social isolation.



The Catch of the Week is a new blog series we will be running here at I4P. Check in every Friday to see the featured projects that we have chosen from around the platform!

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  1. Ezra Bridgman

    Ezra Bridgman ligado 20/09/2013 18:20 #

    The idea that social networking sites may actually decrease loneliness is indeed counter intuitive! In my opinion it is when the reach of online social platforms is paired with IRL interactions that their true potential is reached; in addition to the examples given I think notably of and E-180. What is exciting is that there is no limit to the variety of such platforms nor who they will help to connect: pick-up sports, volunteering, linguistic exchange, contract work -- the possibilities go on and on!

    Great post, looking forward to reading the future featured projects for The Catch of the Week series.


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