A better, safer internet starts with you

by Nina Bibby, CMO at O2

Tuesday 6th February marks this year’s Safer Internet Day.

Now in its 15th year, this day brings together schools, businesses, charities, the police and many others to help inspire a better, safer internet and keep children safe online.

At O2 we’ve been long term supporters of Safer Internet Day. With one in three internet users now under the age of 18 in the UK, and a third of children saying they have been a victim of cyberbullying, I firmly believe it’s one of the most important issues we face in society today.

Last month we commissioned some research which showed that both children and parents are hugely excited by the opportunities that technology can bring. Nearly half of the children we polled (49%) wanted to pursue a career in technology-focused jobs.

But we also know that our customers with children can sometimes feel nervous about actively encouraging them to enjoy the online world. Our research revealed that only 11% of parents encourage their kids to use technology as a way to develop skills or express creativity online.

More needs to be done to help support our children when they are online. For example, only a third (36%) of parents talk to their children about what they do online each day, compared to three quarters (75%) talking about what they do at school every day. Children are navigating an ever expanding online world. We need to make sure they are adequately prepared to manage the potential risks, but also the opportunities – and it’s clear there is a need for practical advice and support for parents.

So that’s why, for this Safer Internet Day, we’re going further. As part of our ongoing partnership with the UK’s leading child protection charity, the NSPCC, we’re writing to more than 100 MPs offering an online safety workshop for parents in their constituency to help keep children safe online.

Through our partnership with the NSPCC, parents can also visit our free Net Aware website and app which explains the social networks, apps or games their children use most frequently. Alternatively they can visit one of our 450 stores nationwide for tutorials with fully trained O2 Gurus.

A free helpline (0808 800 5002) and web chat is available seven days a week, giving parents access to online safety experts. Parents can learn about social networks, privacy settings and parental controls, designed to keep the whole family safe online.

Together with NSPCC, we’ve created a UK-wide network of support and information parents can rely on. The resources are available to everyone, both O2 customers and those with other networks.

If you’re interested in joining the conversation or want to know more about keeping your child safe online, join in our live Twitter Q&A from 10am-2pm on Tuesday 6th February with an O2 NSPCC helpline agent using the hashtag #O2NSPCC.

As a mother myself, I’m proud that we are committed to supporting Safer Internet Day again this year, helping families to enjoy the digital world safely and with confidence.

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