But as HRH Prince William said in a recent speech about bullying, “Children and young people use the Internet more than almost any of us, but are too young, inexperienced or lacking in the maturity of adults to make the right judgments about what is and what is not safe”.
Technology however, can have a positive impact than the harm that is often talked about. And that’s the aim of the Worrinots – four characters who help ‘make the fear disappear’ in their own unique ways. The sole aim of The Worrinots app is to help children communicate their fears, worries and anxieties in a way that is easy, accessible and trusted by parents and schools.
The app encourages children to share their fears, worries and anxieties early on before they fester and become greater issues in later life. The Oakley Mobile team took a ‘child-first’ philosophy whilst designing and developing the app as they understood that many children's worries are compounded by verbalising their fears.
The Worrinots app is therefore intended to act as a better-informed solution than the DIY method that some adults think will work. The Worrinots app suite has been designed with security of data in mind, as Oakley Mobile understands the sensitive nature of what is being entered and also the responsibility of how responses could influence a child’s behaviour.
The core Worrinots application works in conjunction with WotNot – a monitoring application for both parents and safeguarding officers in schools. A large percentage of schools make and implement their own solutions, such as worryboxes and worrybooks for children to share their concerns. However, whilst these are created with the best intentions, they present different problems such as children waiting up to a week for a response or not writing their concerns due to poor handwriting skills.
In an independent survey carried out by Oakley Mobile, a member of staff at one school said "We implement the class worryboxes as it's the best we can do...but as teachers we recognise it's not what children need in the long term"
Since 2012, ChildLine has seen a steady increase of children contacting them online rather than over the phone, with 59% of counselling last year taking place online and a 28% increase in website hits since. Perhaps for this generation of young people, typing out their thoughts is what they are more comfortable with than speaking with someone face-to-face.
Writing in The Huffington Post about ‘cyberphobia’, our Creative Director Barry Richardson stated “I believe that we should communicate with children in the way that they feel most comfortable and not view technology or the need to share concerns online, as opposed to via a conversation, as a bad thing, but is just the way that our society is now evolving”.
The app will be available to schools initially and a home edition will follow shortly after.
If you are a primary school, or know of a Primary School that would be interested in taking part in Beta tests of the Worrinots, please visit www.worrinots.com to register interest.