NSPCC and O2 urge parents to make online safety a New Year's resolution

The NSPCC and O2 are urging parents to make online safety a priority for their children if they are given smartphones, tablets or games consoles this Christmas.
O2 and the NSPCC are warning about online dangersO2 and the NSPCC are warning about online dangers
O2 and the NSPCC are warning about online dangers

The advice comes after the charity and mobile network operator found that thousands of parents who have played the O2 NSPCC Parents vs Kids online safety quiz were getting questions about parental controls wrong.

Out of 6,512 parents 52 per cent didn’t know that games consoles aren’t covered by a parental filter on the home broadband.

And out of 9,796 parents 47 per cent didn’t realise that if their child accessed the internet while at home through 3G, 4G or 5G then they aren’t subject to the Wi-Fi parental controls.

Without parental controls children are at risk of seeing upsetting or inappropriate content, and can also download or buy apps and games which could be unsuitable.

The NSPCC and O2 joined forces in 2015 with the aim of giving parents the knowledge, skills and confidence to keep their children safe online.

The partnership offers free online resources, including advice for parents on Net Aware: a guide to the social networks, apps and games children use – which features tips on setting up new devices this Christmas. It also gives personalised advice through the O2 NSPCC advice line, which is open five days a week (0808 800 5002).

In addition, parents can book an appointment with an O2 Guru in their local O2 store, even if they aren’t an O2 customer, to get advice on keeping children safe online or setting up parental controls.

Tony Stower, head of child safety online at the NSPCC said: “The online world can be full of excitement and entertainment for children and no doubt tablets, smartphones and games consoles will have featured on many Christmas lists this year.

"But the Internet is not without its risks, with some children still stumbling across inappropriate content or even becoming victims of abuse.

“That’s why it is vital parents think of the online world in the same way as the real world, and apply the same level of protection to any app or game their child is using. Every parent who has bought an internet-connected device this Christmas should set-up parental controls to help protect their children from online risks.

"It’s also recommended parents have regular conversations with their children about staying safe online and how to report something that upsets them.”

Martyn Kelly, O2 Guru said: “There are lots of different parental control options available depending on the operating system. For example, with an Android phone or tablet, parents can install Google Family Link to manage which apps can be downloaded to ensure they are age appropriate.

"Whilst on an iPhone or iPad, Apple Screen Time is already loaded onto the device. Via a Family Sharing Group, parents can use Apple Screen Time to schedule ‘downtime’ which can be handy for when they want their kids to do things like their homework.

Technology is our passion and we’re here to help you explore all of the safety features of your children’s devices. All you need to do is pop into an O2 store or book an appointment where we can recommend the latest tools and tips to keeping kids safe online.”

Top tips from the NSPCC and O2 online resource Net Aware on setting up devices this Christmas and New Year to help keep your child safe:

1. Set it up together

Take the time to set the device up with your child. Chat to them about the different features, thinking about what you both like and dislike and decide together what safety features to use.

Talking to your child is one of the most important things you can do to help keep them safe online.

2. Read the manual

This might seem obvious, but a lot of us forget to read the manual when we get a new device. It can be useful to check the guidance given by the manufacturers. Product information often comes with new devices or can be found online. This will give you some idea as to how set up the device and how it collects and shares data.

3. Use parental controls

Setting up parental controls is an easy way to help keep your child safe on their new device. Parental controls can:

• Block upsetting or inappropriate content

• Limit in-app purchases

• Manage which apps children can download

You can set up parental controls on individual devices and on your home Wi-Fi. We also recommend turning on privacy settings and making sure location sharing is ‘off’ on every device and app or game your child uses.

4. Create a family agreement

Agreeing what you and your child do online is a great way to start talking about online safety. That’s why we’ve created a simple template for you and your child to use. Together you can decide what’s good to do online and what you should look out for. Once you’re both happy, why not stick it on the fridge as a reminder? You can also come back to it regularly to see if it’s still working.

5. Ask for advice

For more information call the free advice line on 0808 800 5002 or book a free appointment in-store with an O2 Guru, whether you’re an O2 customer or not.

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