Belfast Telegraph

How to keep your children wrapped up in a Bubble online

Secure network could be answer to kids' safety

By Alex Majewski

If you've got a child and an internet connection, it probably won't surprise you to learn that web usage in youngsters is at an all-time high. Recent research from the Office of National Statistics shows that 89% of eight to 11-year-olds are active online everyday, or nearly everyday, so ensuring your children stay safe on the net is more important than ever.

One of the areas causing the most strife is how to approach the use of social media: while platforms such as Facebook have a minimum age limit of 13, a recent poll found that 59% of children were using social media sites by the age of 10.

That's where eCadets comes in. The start-up, founded in 2014, aims to make social media safe for kids, by providing a secure network where grown-ups are the ones that are banned.

Called Bubble, the network connects users of the same academic year group to ensure children are speaking to other kids their own age.

Currently only accessible via school computers, the platform is set to expand into community and sports groups, and other organisations committed to educational technology.

The company recently won the Best Innovation category at the Internet Matters Digital Safety Awards and is growing rapidly: after a 1,000% licensing increase from 2015 to 2016, Bubble will soon be accessible for more than 1.3 million children in six countries.

Founder Henry Platten describes Bubble as "a safe social network for children, giving them the opportunity to experience the benefits and fun from connecting and collaborating in a specially designed, online social playground".

Platten explains that mums and dads can moderate if they wish, but the ever-present eCadets moderators mean that parental supervision is not essential.

"There is a traffic-light warning system, which flags matters for their attention, so it is easy, safe and simple for parents to feel involved without impinging on the child's enjoyment and social development."

He views Bubble as a place for youngsters to cut their social media teeth before they venture out into the wild web.

"We see Bubble as the safe way to develop social digital skills and awareness in a safe, supportive and friendly environment," Platten says.

"It gives children the unique learning opportunity before they become old enough to move on to other alternatives."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph