Headteacher warns Hartlepool parents over internet app that ‘may be of concern’

CAT CHARACTER: The Talking Angela app
CAT CHARACTER: The Talking Angela app

A HEADTEACHER has sent a text message warning to parents over an internet app which “may be of concern”.

Mandy Hall, head at West Park Primary School, in Coniscliffe Road, Hartlepool, was made aware of the software – called Talking Angela – when a worried parent contacted her to say her child was upset about it.

The app, which can be viewed on tablet computers and mobile phones, sees a virtual cartoon cat character asking and answering questions to and from the user.

A number of four and five-year-old youngsters had been talking about the programme at school and mentioned how Talking Angela had said some “cruel things” which “scared” them.

One child said the cartoon cat suggested they might “die”.

Mrs Hall said: “A parent called out of concern that her child had been scared by this app.

“We checked it out and thought to be on the safe side we would suggest to parents that they had a look at reviews and for them to then make a decision about whether it was suitable for their children.

“I know we are talking about four and five-year-old children here, but it was enough to frighten them.

“I had a look myself and I thought it looked a bit suspect. There were some reviews from other users with one in particular saying it had asked for the users age and address.”

Mrs Hall said the app, which can be switched from child to adult mode, can also be “insulting”.

She added: “I asked other staff members what they thought and we decided that we would want a school to tell us if they had become aware of something of concern.

“Obviously I can’t speak for everybody, some might think it’s OK, but I felt it was my responsibility to do something after a parent had brought it to my attention.

“I thought there was enough information on the reviews, and the fact that some of our children were upset by it, to send a message to parents.”

A spokeswoman for Outfit7, which produces the app, said: “As a company that supports family friendly entertainment, we ensure we are protecting personal privacy and offering a safe environment for game-play.

“Our Talking Angela app does not engage in inappropriate topics of conversation and is continually monitored to safeguard our network of loyal users.

“All information regarding Talking Angela can be found on our website at http://bit.ly/1edq2Jo.”