My name is Brad Brown, and before anything else, I’m a father. My wife and I are proud parents to a daughter (now 14) and two sons (12 and 8). I know firsthand that kids can be glued to their devices. But the internet isn’t always the most productive space for them—and it creates a disconnect between parents and kids. Whether it’s from videos, social media, or select games, kids are exposed to harmful content on a daily basis.
The commercialized content children watch leverages the power of algorithms for private gain. That profit is realized through online advertisements. Ads get shown to your kids because of an elaborate array of interconnected components, resulting in millions of transactions and automated decisions per second. Ads are bought and sold very similarly to the way stocks, bonds, and commodities trade on Wall Street.
After studying computer science at Stanford and Cal-Berkeley as well as getting an MBA from the Wharton School, I spent decades building trading software to allow quants and traders to create algorithms and electronically trade. In that time, I rose to the upper echelon of technical leadership at the top firms on Wall Street.
Because of my background as a parent and a trading system techie, I had a good sense of why our kids consume the content that they do, who is delivering it to them, and how this global commercialized content network operates. As this network rapidly consumed more of my children’s days, I wondered if I could possibly repurpose ads and help deliver educational content instead. For example, I would rather my 8 year old be sent an educational “ad” message about how electric motors work than have him see a standard ad to buy an overpriced toy car.
Next, I realized we could even use the suggestive power and influence of the online ad infrastructure to influence kids to put the devices down. By sending messages about home science experiments, backyard sports, and art projects instead of ads, maybe I and parents everywhere can start to break the addictive cycle of today’s online content.
Learning Break seeks to harness the positive power of the internet.
My fundamental belief is that the internet should add to a child’s educational ecosystem, not detract from it.
At Learning Break, our mission is to re-channel screentime for the greater good—using it to educate kids and get them to better balance online and offline time.
Our novel approach is to repurpose embedded ads in any app or website with educational content. Instead of just fighting against the attachment kids have to their screens, parents will also tap into it—giving them newfound agency over their kids’ online experience by showing them non-commercialized, productive, and educational content.
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