Stella James is the CEO and founder of Gooseberry Planet – an exciting and interactive software platform developed to educate children, teachers and parents about the dangers of the internet such as online bullying, sexual grooming and exploitation. The unique software platform has earned Stella numerous prestigious awards including, most recently, the ‘Best Primary Resource for Wellbeing’ at The Teach Primary Awards and the ‘New Kid Award’ at the Education Investor Awards.
The motivation behind Stella’s business was initially driven by personal experience. Recognising the enormous digital divide between herself and her children, and accepting that today’s generation are spending an increasing amount of time on hand held devices, Stella set herself the challenge of protecting her own boys from online harm, while also raising awareness of the issue in schools. Commonly, the advice given to schools and parents for keeping children safe online has been to block websites and increase the use of filters. Stella did not want to be controlling and tell her sons what they could and could not do; she wanted them to understand the dangers and learn how to make responsible decisions for themselves.
Moreover, although there is a wealth of information about online safety available on the internet, Stella realised there was very limited ‘hands-on’ material for educating children. With numerous issues surrounding the teaching of online safety, but recognising that something could be done to help, she founded Gooseberry Planet.
Gooseberry Planet is a unique software platform that educates children through ‘gamification’. While playing a fun, engaging and interactive game, children are taught about the serious subject of online safety via the use of real-life scenarios and a knowledge based quiz. Teachers are also able to monitor pupils’ responses and progress.
We are still teaching online safety to children in a very traditional manner, with the teacher or policeman standing at the board, telling the children what they should and should not do. However, times have changed – we need to engage with our children in a way that they can relate to – which is why teaching children through a game is an effective solution.
Stella says, “If Gooseberry Planet can save one child from being bullied, groomed or sexually exploited, then it has achieved my goal.”