A Shoreham father has brought together goblins, ghouls and internet trolls in fantasy parables that teach children how to stay safe online.
Graham Pullen, 52, has written two books in collaboration with his seven-year-old daughter, Hollie-April, after struggling with how to broach the subject of internet safety.
The self-confessed ‘older dad’ has published two novels about a little girl called Alice, who happens to be a werewolf, getting into a series of allegorical scrapes aimed at stimulating conversation among primary school pupils.
“I wanted to allow Hollie-April to embrace the internet, but at the same time I am a parent and want to protect her from things online,” said Graham, who works as an IT service manager.
“With a seven-year-old, it’s difficult to start the conversation about internet safety, but this gets my daughter and I talking about it and learning about it.
“The internet is a wonderful thing, so we can’t preach and say ‘you can’t do that’. We need to embrace it and educate children on how best to use it safely.
“She loves the books, and she’s responding to them really well – she’s definitely more aware of what she’s doing online.”
Graham has self-published two books so far, with some illustrations from Hollie-April, and has three more in the pipeline.
Of the two released, Alice and the Troll focuses on the dangers of meeting new people online, where anyone can hide their identity and intentions.
The second, Alice Uploads a Picture, looks at the hidden consequences of sharing family pictures on social media.
Graham said that while the stories were educational, it was important to add the fantasy element to keep them entertaining for his younger audience.
“We can sit and read them together but then still start the conversation around parental controls,” he said.
“She’s in the generation where there will be employment opportunities and a new generation that needs to understand and embrace the internet.”
Alice’s adventures are available on Amazon in hard copy or as ebooks.
Three more stories are planned – Alice and the Agreement, where Alice signs up to an unsavoury agreement, Alice Looks Up and Alice and the Cyber Bully.