Aussie app founder aims to offer Generation Alpha a safer digital world

Claire Halliday
Claire Halliday
Educating young children about safe social media use is something many parents worry about.

As conversations about social media’s impact on teen mental health and the question of whether or not minimum age limits should be increased gain momentum, one woman believes she can offer a safer alternative, with the launch of Australian app Zown.

The marketing collateral around the product describes it as the “antidote to platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat for tweens and teens”.

Zown is dedicated to creating a more positive digital world – something Sydney mum-of-four and founder Lauren Adlam told EducationDaily has taken four years to create from concept to now.

She says Zown is designed for 8–14-year-olds and focuses on “good vibes”, with daily positivity posts, goal-setting, riddles, trivia – and parent resources. The Contributor’s Corner invites kids to share recommendations and acts of kindness, while the Discover section offers age-appropriate resources on topics like puberty, health, and friendships.

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Pitching positivity

But creating a social media-style tool for a generation of tweens and young teens used to the fast-paced world of existing online platforms is, Adlam says, “obviously always a challenge with Gen Alpha being so digitally literate”.

“We plan to create a Zown Youth Group (ZYG) to give kids a say in how Zown develops, so that we are always looking at Zown through a kid’s lens.  We also see Zown as a really positive, feel-good, safe space online to cut through the potential negativity that exists on the internet – and feeling good is always going to be enticing,” she told EducationDaily.

Sydney mother Lauren Adlam created Zown to help parents guide their children towards a safe online space.

Navigating the social media “vortex”

Adlam hopes the creation of an “innovative digital buddy” named Zed will help.

Zed integrates child-centred AI technology developed with AI experts to ensure age-appropriate, emotionally supportive interactions. Through interactive experiences, Adlam says Zed encourages positive behaviours like empathy, self-reflection, creativity and critical thinking, and is available for advice on “everything from how to navigate tricky situations like friendships and bullying to how to complete their homework”.

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“Zed hails from the intergalactic realm of Zondor and has no age, no gender and no judgement.  Zed can be closest described to a purple bear but has positive, kid-friendly wisdom that transcends.  Zed is always available to help in a positive way and to make kids feel good about their conversation with them,” she told EducationDaily.

To help prevent its young users being “sucked into the vortex of social media”, there are no clicks, likes or algorithms. It is fully moderated by adults and contributions are anonymous, so that bullying or predatory behaviour is avoided – something Adlam says is about providing peace of mind for parents and is a “safe space for exploration”.

“For example, we have had contributions with usernames from Roblox shared on screenshots that we have gone back to contributors to ask them to change.  We don’t want any opportunities for online bullying, inappropriate contact or anything negative,” she says.

“Zown is all about helping kids feel good about the world, and their place in it.  We’re not under illusions it will cure the mental health crisis the world is facing, but we do believe through access to awesome resources (including Zed) it will triage many kids before they need mental health intervention,” Adlam told EducationDaily.

“Our focus is on using the devices our kids have access to for good within a controlled and supportive setting, because like it or not they are growing up in a technology-driven society. Through Zed they gain practical insights into how AI works and its potential applications in various aspects of life, as well as connection to support mental health challenges and feelings of isolation. Zown is all about nurturing Gen Alpha for now and into the future to make the world a better place.”

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Claire Halliday has an extensive career as a full-time writer - across book publishing, copywriting, podcasting and feature journalism - for more than 25 years. She lives in Melbourne with children, two border collies and a grumpy Burmese cat. Contact: claire.halliday[at]