Stay safe with a trip to Gooseberry Planet

IT IS a fun game that teaches children about staying safe online – and it has been developed by a local businesswoman.

Single mum Stella James, who runs B2B firm Telesales For Business, in Rotherwick, designed the app for children aged between nine and 13.

It is called Gooseberry Planet and can be downloaded from iTunes, Google Play and

Stella self-funded the project after failing to find the kind of tool she was looking for to help her eight and 13-year-old boys understand about online safety.

She said often parents are in the dark themselves, even with social media like Facebook, where for example tagged pictures can show where children go regularly.

“It’s a minefield,” said Stella. “We teach children about stranger danger and crossing the road, but we are not teaching them to be safe online.”

Keen not to be a ‘helicopter mum’, always hovering and watching over her sons, Stella said: “Although I could track my boys’ online activity, I wanted to do more than that – I wanted them to be aware of the dangers in the first place.

“The game is teaching children through consequence – if they make the wrong choice they lose a life.”

Gooseberry Planet covers email, webcams, and how and why to |block people.

Issues such as online bullying |are serious concerns for Stella, who as a schoolgirl, was badly bullied for three years.

“It was nasty. |||I was quite shy and never told my mum, but now I’m a bit of a fighter,” said Stella, who is in remission from breast cancer.

The disease nearly scuppered Stella’s app, which was in its first development stage, when she was diagnosed with cancer last March.

The news and subsequent chemotherapy knocked Stella |for six.

Eventually, Stella decided she needed something to keep her going and focused on continuing the project, with a lot of support from family and friends.

Stella, who is developing the next stage of the game, said: “After going through cancer I have learned to trust my instincts, sit back and relax and let things evolve.”

A free parent app runs in parallel with Gooseberry Planet, so that parents can monitor how their children are progressing through the game.

This comes with tips, tools and ideas for starting conversations about online safety.

She is currently in talks with |local schools about developing an offshoot of the app called Gooseberry Schools, and about working with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children charity.