As schools start to bring back pupils to the classroom, numerous concerns have been raised about the impact of being away from their friends on children’s mental health. The Children’s Commissioner and The Lancet have both aired concerns.
But a number of primary schools across Wales have been using GoBubble, a safer social media platform designed specifically for children under 13, to allow classmates to stay in touch and keep classes together even when they are apart.
The platform, born in Flintshire and the brainchild of a former police sergeant and e-safety expert, Henry Platten, is similar in look to other social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook but is fully moderated in real-time. This means inappropriate videos, text, images and emojis are removed and flagged to a teacher before they have even had the chance to hit another pupil’s feed. It is available for free for schools to use.
Andrew Jones, a Key Stage 2 teacher from Wat’s Dyke C. P. School in Wrexham, Wales and user of GoBubble, said: “Some pupils were feeling isolated as they couldn’t keep in touch with their friends. Our primary school pupils quite rightly don’t have access to online networks such as SnapChat which some older children have, so we introduced GoBubble to help younger pupils communicate easily with their friends while not in class.”
“It’s the perfect way for the school to keep our community bond and maintain friendships when they are not in class together. Rather than preventing children from going on social media, on GoBubble, they can keep in touch with their friends and learn to use social media in a positive and responsible way.”
GoBubble founder and former police sergeant, Henry Platten, said: “With full classrooms unlikely for the rest of this school year and quite possibly the next, it’s important we help children stay in touch with classmates when they are at home.
“With the National Crime Agency (NCA) reporting that offenders are already discussing opportunities over chat forums to abuse children online during the crisis, we need to ensure children can stay in contact with their friends in a protected environment. GoBubble offers that safer space. It is social media with training wheels.”
Using a combination of advanced security checks, real-time content moderation and a system of biometric age verification GoBubble successfully creates a safer, healthier and kinder digital community for children thus reducing the risk of exposure to cyberbullying, adult content and online predators.
“I wanted to create a way for children to keep in touch more safely. A place where children are rewarded for the likes they give and not the likes they receive,” says Platten.
GoBubble already has more than 1,500 schools registered from 39 countries, creating a secure digital community where kids can communicate and collaborate with fellow classmates.
Access to GoBubble is free for schools. Find out more at www.gobubble.school