Stop, speak, support. Let's keep kids safe online.

by Nina Bibby, CMO 

The internet offers a wealth of possibilities, but it can also have its risks. At O2, we know that online safety is among the top concerns for many of our customers with children. According to our research, 65% of parents believe it’s getting harder to keep their children safe online and they need more help to do so. In fact, while 1 in 6 parents say that they’re very comfortable talking about the kinds of dangers children might face in the real world, like crossing the road safely or avoiding stranger danger – they are more reluctant to talk about their children’s online life – and don’t feel as confident.

The rise of social media platforms and the increase in the number of internet enabled devices has allowed people of all ages to connect in ways we could only dream of ten years ago. My own children have been at the forefront of this change. I’ve witnessed them grow up never knowing anything else and experienced first-hand their journey into the digital world. For example, 4G technology allows us to share photos and videos with one another which is nothing short of amazing, but it can sometimes be difficult not to worry just how much they may be sharing online. For them, as with many other children and young people, this pace of change is the new normal, with innovative apps and ways to interact online being created all the time.

For these digital natives, cyberbullying is not a new phenomenon. Alarmingly 55% of young people in England accept cyber-bullying as part of everyday life. And like all forms of bullying, cyberbullying causes significant emotional distress and a child can feel like there’s no escape.

Our commitment to make the online world safer for children and families led to the launch of O2’s landmark partnership with the NSPCC in 2015, to support parents in keeping their kids safe online. By combining O2’s technical expertise and the NSPCC’s child protection knowledge, we have set up a free online safety helpline, trained our 7,000 strong workforce in online safety and have so far enabled parents to take over 2 million actions to keep their children safe online.

We are also especially proud to contribute our knowledge and expertise to the Royal Foundation’s Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, led by the Duke of Cambridge, HRH Prince William. Today sees the launch of a new national campaign and Code of Conduct for the internet, developed in partnership with O2 and many of the UK’s most influential names in social media and technology.

The campaign aims to reach 11-16 year olds across the country and empower them to take a stand against cyberbullying by following three, simple steps. We believe the code – ‘Stop, Speak Support’ – can help create a safer and more supportive life online for young people, and provides parents with important resources and support to educate their children around the issues.

To find out more, visit Show your support for the campaign using hashtag #StopSpeakSupport.