Skip to content

When our elementary-aged children became tweens, we realized that relying on parental controls, lectures about safety, and monitoring online use and behavior was no longer enough. Our kids were ready for us to expand our focus to include more than just shielding them from harm online. 

We created Thumbs Down. Speak Up. (TDSU) to help parents and caregivers teach children the skills they will one day need to navigate the online landscape without parental oversight.

Our Mission

Thumbs Down. Speak Up. is a not-for-profit rooted in child development research that provides resources and community to parents and caregivers of tweens who want to support their children’s growth towards independent and responsible digital citizenry.

Our Founders

Deirdre Miller, Esq, MSW, MA, and Laura Coraci, PhD, are two friends who live in New York City with their husbands. Between the two of them they have five children. 

It was their shared interests in mental health, child development, and parenting that inspired them to create TDSU. They have degrees in clinical psychology, social work, and law. Their past work has focused on families in crisis and children and adolescents with special needs.


These represent a selection of publications that have informed our approach. If you have questions or related work that you’d like to share with our community, we hope you’ll get in touch.

Cognitive Psychology

Bandura, A.  1986.  Social Foundations of Thought and Action: A Social Cognitive Theory.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Dweck, Carol.  2006. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  New York, NY: Ballantine.

van de Pol, J., Volman, M. & Beishuizen, J. 2010.  “Scaffolding in Teacher–Student Interaction: A Decade of Research.” Educ Psychol Rev 22, 271–296. 

Kids and Social Media

Kidron, Beeban Baroness (with Dr. Angharad Rudkin).  December 2017.  Digital Childhood: Addressing Childhood Development Milestones in the Digital Environment

Bennett, Michael & Bennett, Sarah.  2019.  “How to Talk to Kids About Social Media and Respect.” 

Common Sense Media.  2018.  Social Media, Social Life: Teens Reveal Their Experiences. (You are required to Sign In or Sign Up to access the full report.)

Gold, Jodi.  2015.  Screen Smart Parenting: How to Find Balance and Benefit in Your Child’s Use of Social Media, Apps, and Digital Devices. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Twenge, Jean.  2017.  iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood  *and What That Means for the Rest of Us.  New York, NY: Atria.

Wolk, Laurie.  2017.  Girls Just Want to Have Likes: How to Raise Confident Girls in the Face of Social Media Madness.  New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing.

Child Development

Ames, Louise Bates; Ilg, Frances; and Baker, Sidney. 1989. Your Ten-to-Fourteen Year Old. Gesell Institute of Human Development. New York, NY: Dell.

Bradford Garcia, Renee & Galvin, Susan. 2012. “The Boss Has Left the Building: The Developing Tween Brain.”

PolicyWise for Children and Families. “The Brain Development of Tweens: Understanding Your Tween.” (Video)

Steinberg, Laurence. 2014. Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin.