Teach Primary Award

We are so pleased to say that we won an award for the best primary resource in wellbeing at the Teach Primary Awards

The judges thoughts:

This is an excellent resource which addresses contemporary issues in relation to online safety. 

  • Suitability – the resources is very suitable for the intended age group. 
  • Originality – the use scenario-based learning is highly original. Using game-based learning, Gooseberry Planet is unique. It offers a highly innovative approach to teaching e-Safety.  Pupils face real-life online scenarios to which they must respond, whilst simultaneously collecting stars and competing with their classmates. This is extremely motivating for children. 
  • Impact – the resource aims to educate children about online safety and the associated risks. 
  • Durability – the resource is an online resource so is durable. 
  • Accessibility – the resource is accessible. 
  • Value for money – the resource provides an excellent range of resources for teachers and tracking facilities for students.

Social Media Conversations

Gooseberry News

Social Media.

Conversation starters for using social media:

  1. Are you using any social media platforms?
  2. Why are you using them? – Is it to promote yourself or to communicate with friends?
  3. What’s appropriate to say and do online and what is not?
  4. Let’s talk about “likes” and what they mean to you?
  5. Do you have any worries about what you had seen on social media?

Social media can impact our wellbeing and opening up the conversation with children and young adults may allow them to understand why certain things makes them feel the way they do.  It may also give them the opportunity to reveal any worries that they might not otherwise discuss with you.

Don’t forget to sign up for our alerts.  This month we have a free quiz.

Social media and mental health

Gooseberry Voice

Social Media & Mental Health.

It wasn’t that long ago that social media didn’t even exist – or am I showing my age?!

I had an interesting conversation with a colleague yesterday around social media marketing.  We were discussing our own strategy moving forward and he commented that “I’m not sure why we talk about social media marketing – in fact, it’s just marketing now and even the word ‘digital’ is old hat”.  It did make me think – and it’s true that we don’t need to distinguish the two anymore – ‘digital’ is an integral part of our world, full stop.

Then it got me thinking about our children and I wondered how many would pick up a newspaper or a magazine these days, unless it was lying around home or the hairdressers.  Even then, most would still choose to get their news and opinions in a digital format, often via social media rather than the digital versions of traditional news channels.

Social Media training on the main platforms.

Social Media is now a part of all our lives.  If we are not using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or YouTube, we could be searching LinkedIn.  Many of us don’t even consider YouTube as social media – it’s seen as a TV channel with comments.  We are using social media for so many different things.  Pinterest is a great one for ideas.  I have lots of friends who search for hours for garden or home ideas, looking for that perfect look. Did you know our Gooseberry Guru’s can deliver social media training in your school.


I suppose the interesting thing is to understand how is it affecting our lives?  It is too early to assess the real impact, as the research was only really started about 10 years ago and it needs to run for much longer to see the true effect.  From my own experiences I believe it does impact us, partly for good and partly for bad.  There is no doubting the convenience of communication, the ability to keep in touch with old friends and make contact with new.  Platforms like LinkedIn are part of my every day working life and hugely useful.  But it can have its downsides too.   It’s a bit like a glossy magazine with all those gorgeous women in their stunning houses that you wish you owned.  The designer clothes, jewellery and the perfect family. The difference is that we can now use social media to paint that picture of our own apparently perfect lives.  Constantly viewing our friends and contacts looking great, doing amazing things, I believe impacts us more than the magazine images.    We expect those magazine models to look beautiful but don’t assume we must be the same.  But with social media, we can add filters to make sure we look great and even brush out those wrinkles.  We can photograph ourselves next to that racy sports car giving the appearance of ownership, even if we just came across it on the street!  This constant comparison of our own lives with these carefully curated posts of our friends can quite quickly create dissatisfaction with our own lives and the impact can be even greater on young people who have not yet experienced so much of life.

My son (18) and his friends have been ‘working out’ since they were 15.  Their whole goal is a ‘six pack‘.  They are not interested in the cardio side, just the appearance of looking ‘fit’.  Where does this come from?  Surely the constant images on social media (and yes, perhaps reality TV shows too) have had their effect.   Are young people putting too much pressure on themselves to have that perfect look? I think they are.  It can lead to unrealistic expectations, unhealthy comparisons, dissatisfaction with their body image, low self-esteem and risk their health by over-use of supplements – some of which are purchased online with little thought about where they have been made and whether they are safe.

I do think we need to address this issue with our children, to counter these unrealistic and shallow images that they find themselves surrounded with.   We need to teach them that ‘natural is good’, that being ‘you’ is amazing and not to hide behind a filter which enhances your eyelashes and lips.  We need to remind them that there are many attributes which are valued in life, and that beauty comes in many different forms.  Kindness, humour, dedication, charity are equally valuable and longer lasting!  I know times have changed, and I use social media daily myself, but children need guidance to recognise and follow the right values and not be sucked into unhealthy expectations.

I know myself that I pick up my phone far too much and just have a look at what’s going on.  Many of us spend hours just cruising our phones to find something –  we don’t know what that something is, but we seek a feel-good moment and, unfortunately, instead of finding this within ourselves we are finding it by watching others.  My youngest son is a keen scooter rider and travels to different skate parks in the UK.  He has a very active presence on Instagram with 2000 followers.  No, these are not his friends (and he knows they are not his friends), but he is building something, and his goal is to get sponsorship.  I know I could discourage him, but he is so passionate about it and it is a healthy sport.  People love watching him do his crazy tricks.   I feel that it is more important to have conversations with him and teach him how to use social media.  We have constant conversations about ‘Likes’.  Yes, when he posts he is forever looking at what the figure is, but we talk about how it makes him feel and I remind him that it isn’t a reflection on him as a person, just on that post or trick.

It is easy to assume that children don’t need educating about how to use social media when they appear to be so much more competent with it than we are.  In fact, there are many pitfalls that they could be unaware of until it is too late.   At Gooseberry Planet we introduce the concept of social media within our games around the age of 9.  I can almost hear you shout, “they shouldn’t be on it”, but the fact is, many are.  We have training videos showing parents and teachers how to use social media and what everything means, to help with these conversations.  All year 5’s and 6’s should be educated on the actual platforms themselves, not just “don’t play with people you don’t know”, “don’t add people you don’t know”.  We don’t need to encourage them to ignore the age limits, but we do need to acknowledge that they might and to give them the skills they need to protect themselves.  They are growing up in a digital world and the influence of social media is part of that growing up.  Let’s start showing them the how and why – not the do’s & don’ts


Why not share our conversation starters with your parents .

Also, don’t for get to sign up to our Gooseberry Alerts, just click on the button on the right.  This month we have added a quiz for students.


Online Safety & Passwords

Gooseberry Voice

Online Safety & Passwords

Guess what the most popular Password is?  I can hear you say, ‘Password’.  Well, it used to be but apparently now we have got a little bit more creative and gone with 123456!

Children can be cavalier about sharing their passwords with friends.   My own son, for example, uses Snapchat daily and when we are on holiday, he wants to keep his streaks going (posting to a friend on consecutive days).  He was very happy to give another friend his password to post on his behalf.  Understandably he thinks he can trust them, and his trust was not misplaced, but this can also be problematic.  Not only do many of us use the same password for most platforms but the temptation to send a “funny” text or image from someone else’s phone can be strong, particularly if peer pressure or dares come into play.  What seems funny to one can be hurtful, embarrassing and distressing to another and the damage can be hard to undo.

I do think that the problem is that as parents we have not realised the importance of teaching our children about passwords.  It is something that was not a big issue before our lives became full of mobile phones, gaming, social media and multiple accounts. It is only since I created Gooseberry Planet that I realised  I should have had conversations with my children about this – not just about keeping their own details safe but about respecting the privacy of others.  They should know that it is illegal to access someone’s accounts without their permission, even if they only look and do nothing else.

We need to start talking about passwords in an age appropriate way from as early as 5 years old.  You might think that is very young, but the truth is that many are already, at that age, downloading apps and playing games that  need a password.  We also often share our passwords with our children to let them access our phone or other accounts.  If we do this (rather than entering the password privately and then allowing them access) we should explain that we are sharing this on trust and that while this may be acceptable within a family, it is not something they should do with others.

Using social media in school

There are endless scams, (sometimes known as “phishing”) to try to gain information that help to reveal our passwords.  We only need to look at the many quizzes you find online and how, even as adults, we quite happily fill them in without thinking about where that information goes.  When thinking of our passwords apparently many of us choose obvious and easy to guess or work out things  such as our child’s or pet’s name followed by our date of birth or theirs and maybe, if we are being really clever, an explanation mark.  Hackers know this and from your quiz reply they  have your email, and you have just filled in that quiz to find out what your DOB means, what you are as a person for having a cat and the most popular pet’s name or daughter’s.  They  can gather all the likely information to put through sophisticated code breaking software to work out what your password is.


There are many different views but  I believe we shouldn’t change our password too frequently (unless we believe it has been compromised) but take the trouble to create strong passwords and keep them different for each account.  It may take a bit of keeping track of, (there are numerous password manager products entering the market which if chosen carefully could help), but it is worth it in the long run to avoid the stress and financial damage of identify theft.  We should also take advantage of additional levels of security which are offered.   Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is a second level of security required in addition to a username and password.  This is typically used for sensitive sites such as banking.  Many phones also now make use of Biometrics – using details of someone’s body, eg. fingerprint, iris, facial features to check they are the legitimate user.  We should all take the time to set these up both for ourselves and our children.

What needs to be covered in the curriculm?

Have you signed up to our Gooseberry Alerts?  This month there is a free quiz.

Check out our webinars these are free of charge.


8 top tips for safe passwords

Online Safety & Passwords

Are you Ofsted ready?

As school in both the PSHE and Computing Curriculum we need to ensure that children understand the importance of passwords.  This is not just to protect their accounts but to protect their personal information.  If you are being inspected by Ofsted this might well come up, below are the areas that you need to be aware of when building it into your curriculum.

Computing curriculum: recognise common uses of information technology beyond school, use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private, identify where to go for help about online content.

PSHE/RSE & Health curriculum: Respectful Relationships; Online and Media; Internet Safety and harms, rules for and ways of keeping physically and emotionally safe including responsible ICT use and online safety.

UKCCIS Framework:  Privacy and Security, Online Bullying, Online Reputation

8 top tips for strong passwords

  1. Don’t tell anyone your password
  2. Use facial recognition
  3. Use a password manager
  4. Use a least 3 words
  5. Use upper & lower case letters, numbers & symbols
  6. Use 2 step verification
  7. One strong password is better than lots of weak passwords
  8. Do not use personal information