A new social media platform dubbed "Facebook for seven year olds" has been launched to help protect children when they are online.
Former police sergeant Henry Platten has designed GoBubble to provide young people with a safe alternative to Facebook following the news that increasing numbers of primary school children are logging on to social media at least once a day.
The site, which has been created by online safety experts eCadets, aims to enable children to chat online with their friends, share pictures or videos and learn about different cultures by making new friends with children around the world, without the dangers of unwanted friend requests or inappropriate content.
GoBubble works by putting the user’s school at the centre of their social media network. Pupils are signed up by the school, with parental permission, and are then free to socialise with their friends in a safe environment.
All posts on the site are automatically moderated through the system’s safety features, ensuring any inappropriate video, images, text, audio or emojis are removed before going live.
There is also a live moderation team who can review any flagged messages.
The system has been awarded a PEGI (Pan European Gaming Information) three rating - the safest age rating available.
Henry Platten, founder of the programme, believes the answer to protecting children is to provide a better alternative than what is currently available.
He said: “We need to accept that our kids love social media and will use it no matter what the age limit is, so my view is, don’t ban them, just provide them with a safe alternative that has all of the up sides but none of the down sides. GoBubble is that safe alternative.”
Schools across the UK are signing up to the scheme to help pupils collaborate on school projects, learn about new cultures, develop pen pans, teach children about safe social media use and send parents messages via the site.
GoBubble has also won the support of Greater Manchester Police, who are headline partners in the project.
Chief constable for Greater Manchester Police Ian Hopkins, who is also the national police lead for social media and digital engagement, thinks it is a great step forward.
He said: “Young people use social media to talk to each other and it’s really important they’re able to do so in a safe environment. As a social network, GoBubble is just that, a bubble where children are given all the fun of social media, in complete safety. We look forward to using it to support our education work with under 13s.”