Gooseberry Planet would like your help

Gooseberry Planet would like your help

Please respond to the Age-Appropriate Design Code Consultation

In December, a little known, but hugely important piece of legislation was passed. A data protection code specifically for children and young people, the Age Appropriate Design Code, will change their experience of the digital world in a profound way. To make it robust we need your help.

Few people think about the importance of children’s data, but it is a big business. Data includes information from a child’s name, birthdate, address and friends. It can also infer their sexuality, race, personal preferences, shopping and entertainment habits. Hundreds of small details increasingly affect not only how they are seen by education institutions, commercial companies and future employers, but also guide the experiences they have online.

The Age-Appropriate Design Code will seek to minimise the amount of data, the kinds of data and the spread of their data that can be collected; and will support a child’s right to retract, to correct or to challenge data held about themselves. In doing so, it will reverse the overwhelming nature of data collection that also demands a child’s constant attention to, and interaction with, their devices.

The Information Commissioner is consulting with a wide range of people including parents, teachers, psychologists and academics on the Code. We are asking as many Gooseberry Planet supporters to submit to the Information Commissioner’s call for evidence. This may be something you have done before, but if you have not submitted before be brave and do so now! Remember, you don’t have to answer every question.

We support the Age-Appropriate Design Code because it addresses the needs of children and young people to grow up in an environment that respects their privacy.

We like the fact that it uses the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that means a child is anyone under the age of 18.

We recognise that children are different at different ages, and we support the idea that online services should consider children of different ages differently.

We want the following things to be mandatory in Code:

High privacy by default, which would giving children and young people greater control over who can access their personal information.

Routine failure by online services to uphold their own terms and conditions must be considered a breach of the Code and subject to enforcement, such as fines, commitment to changing their services for the benefit of children.

Geolocation must be off by default, so that children are not tracked or commercially exploited.

Data is only taken during active use of services and apps, to reverse the current trend of online services capturing every piece of a child’s data.

Child data impact assessments for all existing and new services to understand and minimise data privacy risks for children.

A universal reporting system which would allow all children confidently contact online services when they experience problems or need assistance.

A commitment from the Government to enforce the Code. This will ensure robust and effective implementation of children’s rights online.

If you have any questions or need assistance in filling in the submission form, or if you have any thoughts or ideas you can contact

You can find more information about the Age-Appropriate Design Code and children’s privacy in the Information Commission’s blog.

Thank you for your support

Stella James
Head Gooseberry

Keeping Children Safe In Education – Online Safety Update

Keeping Children Safe In Education – Online Safety Update

Keeping Children Safe In Education has been updated and comes into force in September 2018. Have you seen the changes?  This webinar will go over the changes that have happened which are connected to e-safety or online safety.  If you cannot make the webinar please follow the link here. 

Click Here to register

6th September at 2pm (UK Time)

Webinar language: English

Participants can use their telephone or computer mic & speakers (VoIP).

United Kingdom: +44 330 221 9922
Audio PIN: Shown after joining the webinar

Organizer – unmuted
Access Code: 866-212-692

Panelist – unmuted
Access Code: 992-503-017

Attendee – muted
Access Code: 475-119-285

Invite Your Attendees

Webinar ID: 172-788-859


Is persuasive design making you addicted to your phone?



Online addiction and persuasive technology have been all over the news again.  The BBC had a Panorama Programme last week – The Dark Side, which was fascinating.  It demonstrated how we are being deliberately exploited by persuasive design, to generate profit by keeping us online longer.  It  does make you think twice about picking up your devices.  Some experts are referring to the addiction as Digital Cocaine. I have even found images of children snorting cocaine on their iPhones.  Are we making a big fuss or is all this true and should we be trying to fight back?

I know last week I spoke about online addiction, but this sits very closely with persuasive technology.  Former employees of technology companies have admitted they are designing their wares to lure us in and keep us hooked.  They are playing on the very human element of addiction and are studying, through science, psychology and our own social media usage, how we engage, even down to the colour of the like button.  Every time we pick up our phones, get an alert or a notification, it gives us a rush..  What really fascinates me is that most of us just accept this.[  We are happy to let our children have devices 24 hours a day.  Social media platforms watch our every move, they know we need to be loved and the more we are loved the more we will use their platform.  The longer they keep us hooked, the more money the companies earn.   Take a few minutes and watch the BBC Documentary on iPlayer; it amazes me how they are getting away with it.  If your little corner shop sold alcohol or any addictive substance to a 15-year-old, it would be shut down in minutes, yet despite the growing recognition of the negative effects of overuse of social media, there is little reaction against these companies  attempting to exploit us.

High profile owners and employees of large tech companies have admitted that  their children are not allowed near social media or even allowed to have a smart phone. Should we not be following their well-informed lead.   Since watching ‘the Dark Side’I have again made changes.  I take my son’s phone away from him and make him go and make him find others ways to entertain himself.  You see so many items in the news feeds saying kids of the 80’s were playing in parks, but children of today sit on technology.  Whose fault is that?  Ours, we are allowing it to happen.  We all need to be bored. I was listening to  Fern Cotton’s, ‘Happy Place’ a few weeks ago and she was interviewing Kirsty Young.  Her mother’s advice to her was ‘just take time, sit at a wall and dribble’. Let’s embrace boredom, enjoy some quiet time and let our imaginations come alive. 

I know you must probably use it as an alarm, as I did, but why not use a good old-fashioned alarm clock intead. Leave all phones downstairs. We need a digital cleanse in the evening.  From the moment you switch off your iPhone or laptop, it takes 2.5 – 3 hours for your brain to reach the deep sleep/REM state. So, if you want to sleep at 22:00, your phone should be on aeroplane mode by 19:00. Teenagers are spending on average 18 hours a week online; I wonder if adults equal this.  I am pretty sure we do.  Most of you will be gasping at this point.  Okay, I am not perfect, and my phone is still on at 10pm, but I do leave it downstairs with both my boys’ phones and the internet goes off at 10pm too.

I know last week I set the challenge of #nophones, but this week, let’s try and digital cleanse before bedtime and get our children to do this too.

We are all addicted


There has been so much in the news lately about online or gaming addiction.  The World Health Organisation has listed “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition.     I have to say, these gaming companies, are doing an amazing job at using persuasive technology to keep us all hooked.  I know from my own experience, that I am addicted to my phone; I automatically take it everywhere I go. I have to work hard at just leaving it at home.  But my life will not end without it.

I was at an event a few weeks ago and I was chatting with a colleague about technology addiction.  We both went into our phones and changed the settings so that our scenes were black and white.  It felt completely

strange, almost boring and I didn’t feel engaged.  I lasted about an hour with my settings; my friend lasted longer, but we both reverted to the colour scene.  We have been trained to see a phone in colour and to be notified every time something happens.  I am sitting in a café now, watching the world go by, as I type this blog.  I would say 8 out of 10 people are on their phones; they could be listening to music, reading messages or on Social Media.  What we are failing to realise, or maybe choosing to ignore, is that technology companies are deliberating building tech to be addictive.  All of these companies are commercial enterprises and are earning money from our usage. They want us to spend more time online; the longer we stay connected, the more money we are worth.

Technology companies apparently use psychology, including using the anticipation of a reward to our actions to create habit forming behaviour.   The 3 dots which appear when someone else is typing are put there to keep you hooked.  You are waiting for that response. Our phones refresh automatically, yet, we pull down to refresh, because we anticipate pleasure from receiving a new message.  You do not need to, it is making us stay on our phones for longer.  When that Red 1 appears, our human instinct wants to get rid of it, resolve it and make it disappear.  Once it is cleared, we are happy again.  I think Facebook get the gold medal for keeping us hooked, with likes, loves, memories and much more.  That Red 1 has a lot to answer for.  We should look at our own habits and not be surprised when our children seem addicted to their screens.

An NHS Trust is launching a partly NHS-funded internet addiction clinic and it is great that they will provide for support for those small number of extreme cases where lives are severely impacted by gaming.  Most of our children are not addicted to that extent but many parentsare concerned about the amount of time they spend online, be it gaming, watching YouTube or on social media.  We know it impacts on their sleep, eyesight, social interaction, physical activity, reading or doing homework.  Yes, it might help their hand/eye coordination but so would hitting a ball outside!

I was with a friend at the weekend and whenever she takes Fortnite away from her son, he literally wrecks the house and starts smashing things up.  Yes, he has an addiction but at some point, my friend gave into his demands. He has learnt that if he kicks off enough the parent will give in and he wins.   Where has our backbone gone regarding managing our children’s internet or gaming usage.  We have become lazy.It is easier just to leave them on the screen, where they are quiet instead of having a battle or,  dare I say it, engaging positively with our children.

We also need to set a good example.  64% of children want their parents TO PUT DOWN THEIR DEVICES. I get we all have busy lives but,

come on, what happened to good old-fashioned parenting.  We really do have to try to curb our own addiction and lead by example.  I have switched off all my notifications on my social media: it stops me waiting for those “likes”.  As a result, I visit Facebook, Instagram less.  At night I put my phone on Do Not Disturb.  I do not receive emails, phone calls or texts from anyone that isn’t on my favourites list from 8pm – 7am.  We also, have to, at some point, stop blaming the companies for everything that is happening to us and our children; we have to start taking responsibility for ourselves.  After all business is business and although there are useful campaigns to change their behaviour, ultimately it is up to us to be aware of and help our children to resist their ploys.

Here’s a challenge for you.  This week go out without your phone, go for a walk, get your children to come with you and ALL leave the phones behind.

Let’s teach ourselves and our children that it is great to disconnect from the online world every now and then.  Life is short and there is a wonderful, physical world just outside the door.