Pixie Van Dimple has a mission – which is to get the answers the kids want to hear! – we have been banging on lately, haven’t we Pixie ? about parents keeping children safe online and making sure they are empowered so they know the risks in order to become digitally resilient – now that is a mouthful!! There are probably parents and carers out there across the land a bit bemused and perplexed by the prospect of policing their children’s use of their phones and devices and shrink into their collective shells and quake in their boots anticipating an almighty backlash from the ‘kids’, at the first sign of interference, telling their parents to ‘Leave me alone and go away!’
Once the initial barricades have been infiltrated and the ‘kids’ put down their phones and are willing to listen (but only for a minute mind! between chats and games), well parents, you had better have something very interesting to say!!
Well we DO have something interesting to say, don’t we Pixie! In fact Caroline Allams, CEO and Co-Founder of Natterhub has LOTS of very very interesting things to say to all you parents, teachers and Heads of Schools out there and of course, all you brilliant kids! Hey kids, come and join in the conversation…
Caroline, we are delighted to welcome you to Pixie Van Dimple’s very first Pixie’s ‘Information is OMG Key! Quick fire 20 Questions Q & A session‘ – the kids are in charge!! We are extremely honoured to have this amazing opportunity to grill you about YOU and your work and hopes and dreams for Natterhub! Are you ready Caroline ? these kids are very excited, full of ideas and raring to go – they have come up with some fabulous questions and are all ears!!
Quickfire question 1
Pixie: Can we ask you Caroline what your story is so far and how Natterhub was born?
Caroline : I used to be a teacher. I was always very interested in how happy my children were coming to school because I knew that if my pupils were happy at school, I could teach them anything! Then I noticed something that was affecting children’s happiness – being online. So I had the idea to create a ‘role play area’ online where children could learn how to be safe, kind and happy online.
Quickfire question 2
Pixie: We know that you were in education – what did you teach and did you like being a teacher?
Caroline: I loved being a teacher. I started off as a Reception teacher and then taught all ages up to Year 8 but I think Reception is still my favourite age range. Teaching children to read has to be the most rewarding thing to do! Learning to read is like unlocking a treasure chest that will always have exciting things inside. My most recent teaching job was as a textiles teacher and I taught children from 7-13 how to draw with sewing machines and I loved it! I love anything creative.
Quickfire question 3
Pixie: Why did you stop being a teacher in education and decide to set up Natterhub?
Caroline: I was teaching in Hong Kong -in a wonderful school. But I had an idea to make resources for teachers and at the time, I really wanted to learn how to be a graphic designer. So I taught myself to be a graphic designer and set up a business selling certificates, stickers, posters and stampers to teachers. Then from there, I started thinking about children being online and what I could create to help solve the problem.
Quickfire question 4
Pixie: What does Natterhub mean?
Caroline: A hub is a virtual place where people can be placed online and having a good ‘natter’ is like having a chat. Because I wanted to create a safe social media where children can learn about the internet, hub and natter seemed to go together quite well!
Quickfire question 5
Pixie: Who is your business partner and how did you meet?
Caroline: My partner is Manjit Sareen and we met at our sons’ pre-school. They were best friends and so we would have a natter at the door. When she heard about my idea, Manjit wanted to work with me on making it happen. I am so glad she did!
Quickfire question 6
Pixie: What skills did you need to set up Natterhub? what skills do you need now to continue to make it successful?
Caroline: Manjit and I did a LOT of research and planning work for a few years. I have the creative brain and she has the business brain. This makes us a good team because we have defined roles but we consult each other on everything. She gives me ideas and I chat through what she is thinking. We joke that we have become the same person! We couldn’t have done what we have done, without each other.
I still use my graphic skills today which is handy when I need to show the team what I am imagining next for Natterhub. We researched, revised, made hundreds and hundreds of mistakes and stuck at it when things were really hard. And we never gave up.
Now we have a team of people to manage as well as doing our own work. It is important to have resilience and motivation to keep going. You have to be dependable and not be afraid to ask for help (especially at the things you are not good at!)
Quickfire question 7
Pixie: How does Twinkl and The Pedagogs help your business to succeed?
Caroline: Twinkl is a massive support because they help us with a team of people and they also gave us some adverts on the Twinkl site to help attract customers! They also help with ideas and help when we need it 🙂
Quickfire question 8
Pixie: We are really worried about our future because of climate change – how can Natterhub help to sort out the climate change crisis and make sure we live sustainably? (reference to Renewable Energy & Manjeet)
Caroline: Climate change is a worry and everyone needs to be able to feel that they are helping with this issue. Manjit works in renewable energy as well as Natterhub and Natterhub can be used to share good eco advice to your friends in your class.
Quickfire question 9
Pixie: How can we get our school to sign up with Natterhub for our digital literacy lessons?
Caroline: You can sign up here https://natterhub.school/register and your teacher can have a free trial 🙂
Quickfire question 10
Pixie: Our parents think we don’t know anything about online safety but we do! It’s them ! They don’t know what to say to us – can you help with that?
Caroline: It is so hard for parents – they want to help but they usually use the internet differently from children so it can be hard for them to understand the online world as you know it. Most want to help their children to be safe but they are not sure where to start. It’s important to remember that technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s how it’s used that can be positive or negative.
We created a parent section on our website so they can see what we think about the different platforms in bite sized chunks of information. https://natterhub.com/platform-advice
We also asked our Youth Board to Rate My YouTuber! They have done an amazing job of advising parents on their favourite YouTubers and what to watch out for. https://natterhub.com/rate-my-youtuber
Quickfire question 11
Pixie: Some boys in my year texted my friend and me, daring us to go out in the middle of the night during our sleepover (they were at another house) – we did not want to look silly or be scaredy cats so we went outside to take a photo of the stars to prove we went out – was that bad? we only went out for a minute (my friends mum did not know)
Caroline: It’s hard not to feel pressured by some digital messages. It is important to stay strong and stick to your rules even if you are being badgered by people online. It can feel really empowering to say NO!!! You should all practise it! What you did was not too risky but it’s never a good idea to go outside by yourself at nighttime – grownups worry about things like that a LOT.
Quickfire question 12
Pixie: At school we are being told that we are in the middle of a digital transformation ! Does this mean we will need to learn more things to keep safe online?
Caroline: Technology moves quickly to keep people on their screens as much as possible. This makes money for the software companies. It is always good to have enough information to stay one step ahead. It can be really hard to know if you are being tricked by adverts, reading fake news or paying for a game which is not as good as it sounds. Also, some people are always who they say they are and it is important to never agree to give anyone anything online and that includes ANY photos of you.
Quickfire question 13
Pixie: Pixie has a question about Artificial Intelligence – she is a bit wary of it since she was infiltrated by AI created bugs in her book!! Will AI take over our lives and is this a good thing? If AI gets too clever does this mean we will not be safe online? Do you use AI in your business?
Caroline: We do not use AI in Natterhub because we want to educate children about behaviour online. We want to raise the profile of kindness and open-mindedness, respect and empathy. AI can be brilliant when used in the right software – especially when it can help you to learn something or practice your learning in a certain way to help your learning style! Try not to fear technology and instead learn about what’s needed to be savvy – question everything you see!
Quickfire question 14
Pixie: When we were all at home doing online learning it meant that we could chat to our friends and go on the internet when mum was not looking and the teachers could not tell! (sometimes we did not concentrate on lessons, but don’t tell our teachers! – it was REALLY hard!) Did Natterhub become more successful during the pandemic?
Caroline: Natterhub launched during the first lockdown and it was used by schools who wanted to stay connected to their class in a safe space. Lots of teachers missed their pupils and that’s why we have had 4000 schools set up Natterhub accounts in over 60 countries around the globe!
Quickfire question 15
Pixie: Do you think technology is good for us?
Caroline: Yes, when it is used safely. Like I said before, technology is not bad, it’s how it’s used that makes it a positive or negative experience.
Quickfire question 16
Pixie: What are your top 5 tips to keep us safe online?
(we do know but want you to tell us!)
- Use good privacy settings on all your games and platforms
- Do not reply to anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, just screenshot it and block the person and always tell an adult
- Leave your screen in the living room when you go to bed. It is too tempting to go on a screen late at night or if you wake up
- Never ever ever share a photo or video with anyone you don’t know online. Not even if they ask you ten times
- Use a great sentence that only you know as a password
Quickfire question 17
Pixie: How do you make an app?
Caroline: Haha I don’t know, I leave that to our dev team, I just draw and design and talk a lot 🙂
Quickfire question 18
Pixie: I heard my dad and mum talking about a ‘long term plan’ – what is Natterhub’s long term plan??
Caroline: We are just about to integrate with Microsoft Teams and looking forward to sharing Natterhub with the 150M Teams users around the world! We are excited about this because it means so many more students will get a chance to use Natterhub in their school.
Quickfire question 19
Pixie: We keep hearing that the Government should do more to help – do you agree and why? what can Boris do?
Caroline: The government needs to raise the profile of media literacy in schools so that teachers are allowed to spend more time teaching pupils what they need to know! But most importantly, tech firms should be forced to be as safe as possible and remove all the harmful content that makes children unhappy. I am not sure about Boris, he looks like he needs a good night’s sleep!
Quickfire question 20
Pixie: What were your favourite subjects at school and have you got a dog? (we did say didn’t we Pixie that this is 2 questions, but we were interested to find out if you had a dog!)
Caroline: I liked English and French at school but to be honest, I was more interested in setting up a business and having a job than going to school. I scraped through my exams, went to university but learned most things I know now from all the small jobs I had. They taught me about working in a team, managing other people, working hard and being resourceful.
Yes, I have a cockapoo called Squidge von Schneebly Nattybit Tango! That’s another story…But we call him Squidge for short…
You can find Natterhub’s website here
Contact Natterhub email@example.com