Keeping our kids safe online

Three years ago, O2 recognised that online safety was one of the top concerns for our customers – and particularly parents – across the UK. So we joined forces with the NSPCC to help equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to help keep their children safe online. The partnership brought together O2’s digital and tech-know how, alongside the NSPCC’s expertise in safeguarding children.

This week marks the NSPCC’s sixth annual flagship conference, How safe are our children?  The theme of this year’s event focuses on how we can keep children safe in a digital age and echoes what the O2 and NSPCC partnership stands for – keeping children safe in a world where the boundaries between the online and ‘offline’ worlds are becoming increasingly blurred.

As headline sponsors, we will be sharing the approach that we’ve taken over the past three years to provide parents with trusted advice, support and resources to keep their kids safe online, as well as showcasing some of the latest technology that is changing the way children interact, play and learn.

As a parent myself, I see the enormous benefits that the internet brings to my son and daughter and the integral part it already plays in their lives. However, I’m also aware of the risks and issues children face when living their lives online. For example, in 2016/17 the NSPCC’s ChildLine service delivered 12,200+ counselling session to young people on the topic of abuse online. And this figure is increasing year on year.

At O2, we know that online safety remains a top concern for parents – above education or health. 71% of parents admit they consult their child for technological advice and Ofcom reported that the average six-year-old understands more about digital technology than a 45 year old.

To date, our strategy has focused on building parents’ knowledge of a child’s online world, and subsequently their confidence and willingness to have regular conversations with their children. Ongoing conversations help to build  dialogue between a parent and their child, empowering a child to make the right decision when a parent is not around and encouraging children to speak up if they experience a problem.

We have created a number of resources, aimed at parents, in order to help them do this:

  • A free online safety helpline staffed by specially trained experts
  • Online safety workshops delivered in schools, workplaces and local communities
  • Net Aware – a guide for parents to help them keep up to date on the latest apps, sites and games popular with children
  • Free in-store advice from O2 Gurus on all aspects of family online safety
  • Our icebreaker email series, which provides online safety top tips and support straight to the inbox

We’ve also used the power of our brands to deliver awareness and behaviour change campaigns to encourage parents to set parental controls and privacy settings, and have regular and more informed conversations with their children. And the results have been positive – we have inspired parents to take almost 5 million actions to help keep kids safe online.

But we know more can be done. With the digital world rapidly changing, technology is shaping how young people play, learn, build relationships and express their creativity. For them, online life is real life.

So at O2 we are committed to continuing our work with the NSPCC to help parents and children enjoy the benefits of the digital world, safely and with confidence.