Why Natterhub’s Kid-Friendly Design Makes Edtech More Effective

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Children are going online earlier in life than ever. While they may be able to effortlessly drag, drop, and post updates on social networking sites, they haven’t yet acquired the emotional maturity to use the internet mindfully. Technological ability without wisdom is one reason social media use is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and low self-worth.

This trend was concerning to teacher and parent Caroline Allams. So in April 2019, along with CEO Manjut Sareen, she co-founded Natterhub, an innovative online safety and digital literacy tool designed to teach children how to act with integrity on the internet.

Natterhub is like a social media site, but without the toxicity and misinformation. It is a gated, teacher-moderated platform that includes weekly lessons on being respectful in virtual classroom chats, the importance of balancing time on and off screens, and more. As with many companies, the edtech platform is seeing incredible growth. Natterhub is clearly becoming an important tool to help students contend with the complexities of navigating the internet. Here’s how.

What problem does Natterhub help solve?

The potential of education technology is exciting, but what scares me most is when we put our children on the internet with little to no guidance. Children are incredibly capable of using technology. But their technological skills are mismatched with their maturity levels.

Now that children live in a blended online and offline life, it’s essential to teach them safety, social media literacy, and the importance of being empathetic to others in chatrooms and forums.

How has Natterhub evolved since the global pandemic?

We launched early in April, in the middle of the lockdown, when most children were at home and missing their friends. Because we have this newsfeed-type structure, many schools and teachers bought it to allow students to stay socially connected with their class.

We have over 2,000 organizations signed up in 41 countries around the world. The lack of social media literacy is a universal problem: Children are globally vulnerable online, regardless of socioeconomic background.

How does strategic design help Natterhub achieve its mission?

Our platform is conceptually designed to keep the human element in digital communication. We created a child-centered communication tool. A lot of classrooms are using products designed for adults in business settings, which fall short. Children frequently find themselves in spaces and virtual classrooms never designed with them in mind.

If you’re trying to shoehorn a corporate model into an education system, is that the best experience for children? Probably not, because such models lack features that support the emotional wellbeing of young people. The best edtech is grassroots designed by collaborating with teachers who best know what children need.

What is the future of edtech?

Teachers are prone to jump on using new technologies even if it’s not the optimal tool for their classroom — they don’t want to get left behind. Edtech will always balance education and business. Problems arise when companies don’t have education at the heart of their product design.

Edtech companies should adapt to teachers’ feedback: Focus on creating a product that fulfills a need. Remain critical of your edtech for continual improvement.

Stream Takeaway: As in education itself, a one-size-fits-all approach to edtech can overlook the unique needs of smaller student populations.

Interested in learning how product managers are evolving edtech tools to serve the diverse needs of all education stakeholders? Download Stream's free ebook, Edtech Today: 8 Startups on Managing Exponential Growth.