Let your Bugbear do the talking
CBBC is to launch a new and innovative website for children, where they can discuss their very own "Bugbears" anonymously, and support each other with advice and empathy around issues or problems that they face in the world today.
Children will be able to use the Bugbears website, which launches on 10 November 2008, to record their very own Bugbear in their own voice with their own richly animated 3D creature to tell their story in a visually captivating way.
They can create their own creatures to suit their stories and share them with other children on the site in an entertaining way and with anonymity.
Anne Gilchrist, Controller of CBBC, says: "Bugbears is perfect for CBBC in that it responds to our audience's need to talk about and share difficult issues and yet for those issues to remain confidential. It looks great and it's fun but at the same time it's incredibly useful."
Marc Goodchild, BBC Children's Head of Interactive and On-Demand, adds: "All too often kids' worries get shoved out of sight and out of mind.
"In Bugbears we're creating a fun community where children can share their concerns and really benefit from the support of their peers.
"Obviously we're dealing with serious issues but at its heart Bugbears is a fun environment where children can take comfort knowing they're not alone."
Bugbears puts children and their concerns first and will create a world where they can share their problems no matter how large or small.
The Bugbears website addresses a wide range of concerns commonly faced by children – from serious subjects such as street crime and bullying to lighter issues such as horrible school dinners and pesky brothers and sisters.
Children can get involved at different levels on the site; if they don't want to go as far as to record their own story they can also listen to others and contribute by clicking empathy icons to give Bugbears hugs, show respect or let them know they feel the same. Children can also write comments on stories or post on advice boards.
There is a child, and a real story, behind every Bugbear, so children visiting the site learn that they are not alone with the problems and issues they have.
It is also a means for children to vent frustrations and share funny observations which others relate to.
Bugbears is about giving children a voice and for the vast majority it will simply be recognition that they're not completely alone.
Every topic will have associated contacts and reference material so children don't feel isolated and, in time, their first-hand solutions will build up into a library of verified tips and advice, for children, by children. [See Notes to Editors].
Chris Cloke, Head of Child Protection Awareness and Diversity, NPSCC, says: "Bugbears is an extremely valuable and entertaining platform for children to talk about their problems.
"It is a convenient space for children to share their thoughts, problems and offer pertinent advice in a safe pre-moderated way.
"Bugbears provides a complementary service that works in conjunction with ChildLine, provided by the NSPCC, and the ongoing work that we are doing with and for children. If children and young people having gone online want to talk through their problems they can always ring ChildLine."
CBBC has created a unique process to deliver an immersive and engaging web experience for the 6-12 audience.
Bugbears combines leading-edge 3D animation, lip-synching and web-based audio recording technology to enable real-time capture of a user's audio performance to drive their Bugbear characters which then appear on the site after pre-moderation.
Children can also preview their talking creatures, locally on their own PC.
The producer is Adam Khwaja and the executive producer is Rachel Bardil.
Bugbears is created and produced by CBBC – working with Magic Lantern for the development of the website and Studio Liddell for the interactive 3D characters and animation process.
Notes to Editors
As with all Children's BBC online services, the submissions will be "pre-moderated" – every Bugbear message will be reviewed in advance by trained experts to ensure the content is appropriate for the target age range.
CBBC moderators also check that personal information is not disclosed that could lead to the child's identity being revealed online.
CBBC also works closely with CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) and the NSPCC, and has a strict process in place for referring flagged messages if it is believed that a child is at personal risk.