Dorset PCC backs NSPCC & O2 partnership to help parents support their children online
O2 and the NSPCC announce a new online safety partnership as new research reveals thousands of children are potentially missing out on vital online advice and support at a crucial time in their development.
The YouGov survey of more than 2,000 parents of children aged 8 to 13 suggests a worrying ‘digital delay’ as parents may be postponing conversations with their kids about staying safe online. The findings reveal that although 91 per cent of eight year olds use the internet at least once a week, on average parents think that children should be at least nine before their parents tackle issues of online safety with them.
The research also highlights a contradiction in the way parents approach online and offline welfare and safety issues. On average, parents thought it was right to talk to kids about everyday ‘real world’ issues such as stranger danger and bullying from age seven. However, when it comes to similar issues online, such as chatting to strangers on the web or cyber-bullying, on average parents felt that these conversations could wait until their children are at least nine*.
To ensure parents can access the practical advice and support they need to help their children stay safe online, O2 and NSPCC have teamed up to launch a ground-breaking partnership which will provide free one-on-one expert technical advice to parents via a dedicated new helpline (0808 800 5002), as well as interactive workshops delivered in workplaces and schools up and down the country.
And, importantly for the hundreds of thousands of children that contact ChildLine every year, O2 will also zero-rate ChildLine online, making it free for children and young people to get the help and support they need – even if they don’t have credit on their mobile phones.
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill said: "I welcome this helpline, we know that parents are faced with an awful position here, and any help for them to broach the subject early should be embraced. The reality is that by 10 years old, some children know more about how to work the internet than their parents, leading to a mismatch. But we know that although children may understand Snapchat, Tumblr and Whatsapp more than their guardians they are ill equipped with life experience, and are therefore really vulnerable. I am often asked by parents “When is the right time to tell my child?. The answer is simple. If they are old enough to have a smart phone, they are old enough to know the risks."
Ronan Dunne, O2 CEO said: "While the internet is driving economic growth and positively transforming the way we live and work, the simple truth is that, like the ‘offline’ world, the online world comes with risks attached. Risks that need to be acknowledged and faced. Although progress has been made in ensuring young people receive practical online safety advice, our research and experience also suggests that more needs to be done to help parents, particularly those who don’t feel as confident supporting their children in the fast-changing digital world.
“That’s why today we are launching an ambitious partnership with the NSPCC to give parents free expert personalised advice to build their digital competence to help keep their children safe online. It is our hope that this partnership will help parents and their families to make the most of the wonders of the web, safely.”
NSPCC chief executive, Peter Wanless said: “Sadly we know that children up and down the country are struggling because of difficult experiences online. Thousands of young people contact us about issues such as online grooming, cyber bullying and after viewing sites which encourage eating disorders, self-harm and suicide. We need to ensure they are equipped with the necessary skills to protect themselves.
“This is a 21st century problem that will not go away and we need a real focus on teaching young people about staying safe on the internet, which is why we are joining forces with O2. Together we want to help parents recognise that for their children there is often no distinction between the online and offline world. Through our new helpline, workshops and online hub we want to encourage parents to learn more about what they can do to help keep their children safe. We hope that this partnership is just the start and that others will follow suit.”
Baroness Joanna Shields, Minister for Internet Safety and Security, said: "Growing up has never been easy but today the virtual world presents a whole new set of risks which are all too unfamiliar to parents. The challenge of keeping children safe online requires the full support and cooperation of parents, industry, charities and the government. We welcome the NSPCC and O2 partnership which brings together experts on the technology our children use with those who understand the way they use it.
“Government takes safety online seriously and we are standing alongside parents to make sure the internet is safer for children to explore, learn and create fearlessly."
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