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Gabb Year in Review 2023: AI, social media lawsuits, and a lot of reasons to be optimistic

Words by
Jake Cutler

DEC 26, 2023

Gabb Year in Review 2023: AI, social media lawsuits, and a lot of reasons to be optimistic

In 2023, tech headlines were dominated by a few stories: the amazing potential of AI, the negative effect of social media on adolescent mental health, and lawsuits against big tech companies for knowingly endangering kids. 

These discussions served as a stark reminder that technology marches forward, bringing both positive and negative consequences. 

As AI continues to advance, it reminds us of the importance of using technology for the betterment of society. On the other hand, the concerns surrounding social media emphasize the need to protect our children and ensure their well-being in the digital age. It’s encouraging that so many people — parents, politicians, business leaders — are standing up for kids.

It has never felt more crucial for us to navigate this complex landscape and find ways to safeguard the younger generation while harnessing the benefits that technology brings.

Before we move on to 2024, we decided to take a quick look back at 2023. Despite some serious challenges, the progress made in the last year gives us a lot to be optimistic about.

Enough protection to fill 200 high schools

Gabb started because there simply weren’t any good options for smartphones for kids. Everything out there was made for an adult, with maybe a few safety features tacked on as an afterthought.

We believe kids deserve better. Tech designed for kids and teens from the outset is always going to do a better job for them than adult tech with some modifications.

Clearly we’re not alone in this. 

Hundreds of thousands of parents are resisting the urge to just hand down an old adult smartphone or shell out big bucks for the shiniest new adult phone on the market. In 2023, parents used new Gabb devices to protect enough kids to fill over 200 average-sized U.S. high schools.

3 new kid-first tech innovations

From the beginning we’ve made it a priority to listen to parents to understand what they need most. What we’ve been hearing is the need for more tools to keep their kids safe. In 2023, we released two new devices and our own custom messaging app to do exactly that:

550,000+ parents staying in the know

Parenting has never been easy, but in the digital age it can feel especially overwhelming. Part of this is the challenge of staying up-to-date on all the apps, trends, slang, and new tech innovations popping up all the time.

Gabb’s free educational content is meant to provide parents with a reliable place to turn to get the most relevant info for keeping families safely connected. And in 2023, more than ever before, parents were showing up. We saw over half-a-million visits to our educational content this year! 

Here are a few of the most popular pieces of content in 2023:

And as a special bonus, here’s one story we were especially excited to share:

2x the love online

We are a mission-driven company so it’s always great to hear from parents who are just as passionate about finding ways to help kids thrive in a digital age. In 2023 alone, we saw our positive Google reviews double! There isn’t much that means more to us than hearing that families are finding it easier to stay safely connected.

1 new CEO (for a day)

On November 30th, Gabb CEO Nate Randle called a company-wide meeting to announce he was stepping down as CEO to be replaced by 9-year-old Michael Esquivel from Gilberts, IL. For the day.

Michael is a longtime friend of Gabb who uses his Gabb Watch nearly every day to connect with his family and friends during cancer treatment. “I’ve learned through Michael and his mom Kelly that our product is far more than a safe device but a connecting device — a lifeline — while he’s in treatment,” Nate said.

As part of his CEO-for-the-day duties, Michael approved a new policy for paid volunteer time off for Gabb employees, dedicated a game room, suggested recess for all employees (at least 15 minutes), and oversaw the sewing and assembly of pillowcase care kits for patients at Primary Children’s Hospital who are in the hospital during the holidays.

“My favorite part about being CEO was dressing like Nate and approving things,” the 9-year-old, who will turn 10 in two weeks, said. He and his twin 5-year-old sisters, mom, and dad enjoyed a weekend in Park City to enjoy some respite between Michael’s treatments, on Gabb. He headed back into the next cycle of treatments straight from Utah after building a snowman, ice skating, and sledding with his family.

Countless mentions of safe-tech in the news

We’ve been loudly proclaiming the need for more kid-safe tech since our founding in 2018. We weren’t the only voice then but we were definitely in the minority. 

While there is still plenty of work to be done in spreading the word, it felt like 2023 was the year that the world really started to wake up to the need to protect kids. 

Check out this small sampling of major media outlets that spoke directly to the need to do better when it comes to kids and technology:

  • The Daily podcast by the New York Times: “It starts in the fall of 2020…state regulators around the country…began talking about how worrisome social media was for young people.”
  • NPR: “there is a long track record of seeing kids really hurt by tech products.”
  • Yahoo! Life: “The product that changed my family’s life the most this year is my son’s Gabb phone.”
  • CSB News: “Dozens of states are suing Meta, alleging the tech giant has deliberately engineered its social media platforms Instagram and Facebook to be addictive to children and teens.”
  • Wall Street Journal: “Meta Platforms has spent months trying to fix child-safety problems on Instagram and Facebook, but it is struggling to prevent its own systems from enabling and even promoting a vast network of pedophile accounts.”
  • CNN: “YouTube is implementing new safeguards that could help prevent the platform from sending teen users down potentially harmful content rabbit holes.”
  • Today: “A panel of experts join TODAY to discuss the impact of smartphones, social media and screens on the physical and mental health of children and teens.”
  • New York Times: “social media is of concern because the rapidly developing adolescent brain may be uniquely vulnerable to what the platforms have to offer.”

What stood out to you in 2023?

Did we miss anything? What caught your attention this year when it comes to keeping your kids safe in a digital world?

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