A former police sergeant launches ‘Facebook’ for young children to keep them safe online
The age limit on sites such as Facebook may be 13, but that doesn’t stop four out of five primary school children admitting to using social media at least once a day, according to research by ComRes for BBC Newsround, who questioned 1,200 young people aged 10 to 18. Among those under 13, 78% were using at least one social media network, despite being below the age requirement.
Determined to give parents and teachers the tools to deal with this growing trend, former policeman and founder of online safety education programme e-Cadets, Henry Platten took matters into his own hands, developing a safe social media platform children can use.
GoBubble works by putting the child’s school at the centre of the social network. The school signs its pupils up – with parental approval – allowing children to safely enjoy the best bits of social media, including chatting online with classmates or children of the same age in schools around the world, and sharing pictures and videos. It also eliminates the negative aspects, such as unwanted friend requests, dubious content and the potential for cyber-bullying.
All posts are moderated through the system’s safety features, ensuring any inappropriate video, text, audio or emojis are removed before going live. There is even a moderation team who review any flagged messages, and the site has been awarded a PEGI 3 rating – the safest age rating available from the governing body.
“We need to accept that our kids love social media and will use it no matter what the age limit is, so my view is, don’t ban them, just provide them with a safe alternative,” says Platten.
Schools around the capital are already using the platform to help children collaborate on school projects, learn about new cultures, develop pen pals, teach children about social media safety and send parent messages via the site.
The web and app version is free to schools. Outside of school, parents and children can access GoBubble via the web or have the option to download the app onto their tablet, laptop or phone for £3 per year.