Posts

Gooseberry Planet goes to Luxembourg

Stella James is very excited to have the opportunity to deliver at workshop at the ECIS Conference in November in Luxembourg.

This is a 3-day conference kicking off with a 1.5 day programme of Deep Dive sessions which you can select as part of your registration. Deep Dive sessions commence on Friday morning and conclude before lunchtime on Saturday morning.

WORKSHOPS, KEYNOTES AND SOCIAL PROGRAMME

The remainder of the conference will comprise mixed format workshops of 90-mins, 60-mins and short lightning talks. We have a fantastic line-up of keynote talks and exhibitors, plus plenty of networking opportunities in our social programme.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE EVENT

 

 

Anti Bullying resource in Partnership with Kidscape.

 

Anti Bullying resource in Partnership with Kidscape.

Very excited to be able to offer every Primary Schools in the UK a free resource.  There are 5 documents in total all covering and promoting Anti Bullying Week in November.  To access the resource just go to our website and sign up for Gooseberry Alerts.

36d. Top Tips for Parents & Carers – Anti Bullying with Kidscape
36c. Top Tips for Schools – Anti Bullying with Kidscape
36b. Friendship Friday Primary School Pack with Kidscape
36a. Friendship Friday Fund Raising Pack with Kidscape
36. Anti Bullying Week Written by Kidscape

Another headline about child sexual abuse and live streaming

Another headline about child sexual abuse and live streaming

Click here to watch our video blog 

It is a shame that the first week our children are back to school, we have another headline about child sexual abuse and live streaming. The numbers referred to in the National Crime Agency news report 1 are sobering – over 80,000 individual industry referrals for child sex abuse images in 2017 – a 700% increase since 2012. Areas identified in the report as having the greater risk of contact abuse include grooming and live-streaming.

I don’t think most of us realise that we use live streaming nearly every day. Most social media apps offer it as a service. My favourite is Facetime and I use Skype for work every day. It is also, unfortunately, being used by paedophiles to groom children and live-stream child abuse. Apparently, offenders are using the dark web to groom children on the mainstream internet.
I know I have said this before, but it isn’t just parents’ and schools’ responsibility; it is the social networks’ responsibility too, and I totally agree with Sajid Javid MP’s demand for the tech companies to do more to combat online child sex abuse. According to the NCA report, “the technology exists for industry to design-out these offences, to stop these images being shared. Whilst some online platforms have taken important steps to improve safety, we [NCA] are asking them to take it to the next step; to innovate, to use their brightest minds, and to invest in preventing these online offences from happening in the first place.”

What will it take to spur these technology companies to action? How many young lives must be ruined before things change? There are already 400 people arrested in the UK every month for these types of offences. The more I think about it, the angrier I become. I believe these companies should be fined millions for allowing this type of content to remain on their sites. Money seems to be the language they best understand. I know there is the dark web, but so much of this is happening via the live streaming apps like music.ly. Do we look to them to change their apps? Maybe there needs to be stronger age verification? On all the gambling sites you must put in ID and it must be verified. My son is a bit of an entrepreneur and desperate to have a Trading Account, but he can’t as he isn’t 18. Why do we not have these types of rules for Apps that put children at huge risk. The mental scarring of such an ordeal is unimaginable.
It is probably no coincidence that the number of offences is increasing while the hours our children are spending online is also growing. Education has got to be key. Children are unknowingly putting themselves at risk by downloading and accessing free chat rooms, apps and websites that support random messaging, voice and live streaming. This type of social networking promotes random contact with people online which can be exploited by paedophiles. Children must be taught not to share personal details, particularly anything that might identify them or their location.

When a child is being groomed online, it takes some time, it doesn’t happen overnight. We need to educate children on how to recognise this. We happily talk about Strange Danger, yet sometimes ignore the online world where children are often more unsupervised than they are outside the home. These predators behave like our children’s best friends. They make them feel good, feel part of something, promise them treats and then cleverly manipulate them to make them feel guilty and obliged to do what they demand. We must explain this to children and help them to identify the signs, to use their intuition if someone seems a bit “too nice”. They must be empowered to say “No” and know that it is not their fault and that we, as parents, will not blame them if they make a mistake.

We also need to discuss, in an age appropriate way, sexual acts via streaming. I know it’s tough enough talking about the birds and the bees, but the way children behave during live streaming is likely to be quite spontaneous and unless we warn children about this risk, how can we expect them to make the right decisions on the spur of the moment.
Above all, make sure you are alert to your child’s need to discuss any problems. Perhaps just ask them, at a quiet moment when no-one else is around, if they are happy and whether anything is worrying them – give them that chance to unburden themselves and you might save them from something much worse.

1 http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/1458-nca-and-police-arrest-130-suspects-for-child-sexual-abuse-and-exploitation-in-just-one-week

Gooseberry Planet & Network ROI, working together to protect children online.

Gooseberry Planet & Network ROI, working together to protect children online.

Gooseberry Planet is delighted to partner with Network ROI to help deliver a safer and more secure online experience for school children in Scotland and North England. As one of the UK’s top Managed Service Providers, our skilled engineers have years’ worth of experience managing and supporting technology infrastructure for organisations throughout the UK. Our commercial background ensures we deliver an effective and cost-effective service at all times.

If you are a school in Scotland wanting to know more about Gooseberry Planet and how a scheduled program of learning can protect the children at your school online, visit https://www.networkroi.co.uk.

We need to do more to protect children online in education. However, it is not solely the responsibility of the school to manage the content children access during school hours. Parents, teachers and carers need to work together to understand more about the many dangers lurking online.

Blocking and filtering offensive content by keyword is only part of the answer as radicalisation, online bullying, grooming and harassment offer a persistent threat to the safety of young people online. A multi-pronged approach to Internet safety that includes changes to current legislation, recognition of the mental health timebomb facing children and a new way of protecting children online is needed.

Legislation changes are needed to protect children online

The legislative backdrop is changing due to failures by social media giants who are being urged by the UK Government to do more to protect younger members of society against online threats. The UK Government has challenged the leading social media providers, Facebook, Google and Twitter to ensure more is done to protect underage users of the platforms.

Children between the ages of 10 and 12 are facing significant emotional risks due to social media exposure. Increased levels of anxiety and pressures to maintain their image online is affecting children in their formative years, according to a report commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner, published in the Independent – link.

Gaming addiction is a real threat to children’s mental health

The World Health Organisation has listed ‘gaming disorder’ as a mental health condition, and the NHS is now treating children with gaming addiction. Many parents and teaching professionals are despairing as addictive games such as Fortnite encourage children to stay up well into the night to play with friends online. Lack of sleep and disruption to their daily routine is playing havoc with children’s behaviour, learning and development.

Psychology underpins the entire software industry. App developers and hardware manufacturers deliberately design addictive products, as they know the longer we spend looking at a screen, the more profitable we are. But It is not just children who are at risk, many of us are addicted to our smartphones as we turn to our devices to manage more of our day. A recent report published by industry watchdog Ofcom, found that on average, adults check their device every 12 minutes.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a real problem, and entire industries are flourishing as vanity and anxiety take control of our lives.  An example is the three dots that appear when someone is replying to an iMessage. The dots are designed to heighten anticipation and therefore offer a reward when the reply comes in. The red dots that litter our phone screen are designed to have the same effect, they make us feel good; reinforcing warm and fuzzy feelings of being wanted and liked, engendering a sense of belonging.

In 2015, the BBC published an article citing the Connected Kids report, compiled by Childwise. The report found that children now spend an average of 6.5 hours per day in front of a screen compared to an average of 3.5 hours in 1995. That increase has many experts worried about the detrimental effect on social skills as well as the potential for a future mental health crisis.

Changing online behaviour with Gooseberry Planet

Gooseberry Planet exists solely to protect children in school online. Entrepreneur Stella James founded Gooseberry Planet to address the online security concerns encountered by her children when they attended school.

Based on 50 role-playing games, Gooseberry Planet connects children, parents and teachers via a secure online portal which can be quickly set up and easily monitored. The platform is designed for all children of school age and delivers a holistic approach to online safety. Studies show that providing a one-off assembly is an ineffective method of educating parents, teachers and children about the many dangers that exist online.