Safer Internet Day 2016- Play your part to a safer internet!

From Minecraft to Snapchat; Yik Yak to Meow Cat, whether you are 9 or 59, it’s hard to keep up with all of the social media sites available.

The internet is a wonderful place; it’s fun, creative, exciting and extremely educational. But there is also a darker side to the internet, and it’s important to realise that to find it sometimes we don’t have to look for it.

As adults we know to never share personal details with strangers online and to recognise inappropriate content, but do our young children know this?

You may be thinking ‘My child is too young to be having an online safety talk’. Well think again. According to research by YouGov, 91% of eight-year-olds are using the internet once a week, however parents don’t initiate conversations on avoiding potential risks until the age of 9.

With children being exposed to the internet at such a young age, to them online life is real life. They see no distinction between the people they speak to over social media and their friends at school. And the experiences they have over the internet are as real to them as the activities they take part in.

Parents, you start teaching your children the green cross code from 6 years old, so why not teach them how to enjoy the internet safely from the moment they start to use a phone or an iPad?

At O2, we are committed to keeping kids safe online, and we’ve have partnered with NSPCC to help achieve this.

We believe that the best way to help keep kids safe online is to encourage parents to talk to their kids about their online life. To help parents understand more and feel confident to have these conversations we:

  • Haveo2_nspcc created a free online safety helpline for parents to call for advice on how to keep their family safe online.
  • Are bringing online safety workshops for parents and carers into schools and workplaces across the country.
  • Have trained our people so parents can pop into any O2 store to get advice about their online safety concerns.
  • Created content and tools, such as Net Aware, to help parents understand the issues and solutions.
  • Ensure our network offers great safety as standard, with all Sims sold as default U18 and therefore protected by our network Shield, with O2 Wifi being one of the most secure in the market.

With 30 of our staff managing our helpline, there is no question or concern which is too big or small. Our team are passionate about helping you keep your children safe online so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

‘A call which we receive quite often are parents and guardians wishing to put privacy controls on their child’s mobile phone. Covering aspects such as pornography, swearing and other inappropriate content, we give parents step by step guides on how to set up these controls.’ – Helpline Advisor

A call which has stayed with one of our staff was one which began with a concerned mother ringing the helpline…

‘A mum called concerned as she had discovered her 14 year old son has been purchasing knives from the internet. Her son had his own bank account and had been buying knives via a pay pal account. After consulting the NSPCC and Young Minds, a charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people, we advised the mother to speak to her son, offering what questions to ask and guidance on how she can establish through conversation if anything is happening such as bullying, peer pressure etc. We called back the mum advising her to ring the son’s school raising a concern about carrying knives. An agreement was made that the mum would sit down this evening and have a chat with her son to establish why these purchases were being made. We signposted mum to call NSPCC directly and for her son to talk to child line in confidence if he felt he could not talk to mum. We also suggested the mum should make the police aware.

We followed up with the mum a couple of days later, as we do with all of our callers and were pleased to hear all issues have improved with the mother having multiple discussions with her child and the school.’ – Helpline Advisor

That was just a couple of examples of some of the many calls which we receive at the helpline. So what other questions do we get?

Here is the top 5 helpline call reasons:

  1. Enquiry about NPSCC workshop
  2. Parental controls
  3. Blocking Access
  4. Information on what phone is best to get for their son / Daughter
  5. Welfare of a child

So if you have a concern, or simply want to know more about the O2 NSPCC Partnership please call our helpline on 0808 800 5002 or visit http://www.o2.co.uk/help/nspcc

Will you be having the online safety talk with your children for Internet Safety Day? Or have you already done so? Let us know in the comments below.

And remember to check out Share Aware for great tips on how to get the conversation started https://www.nspcc.org.uk/shareaware