O2 partnership will help parents to avoid 'digital delay'

Giving parents the confidence to talk about issues of online safety could help to keep more children safe online

girls using ipadOur new online safety partnership with O2 launches today, 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% of 8 year olds use the internet at least once a week, on average parents think that children should be at least 9 before tackling issues of online safety with them.*

The study also highlighted that confidence in dealing with online issues could be key:

    • Nearly a third (31%) of all parents admitted they would refer their child to another adult or sibling if they asked them questions about an issue they’d encountered online
    • While one in six (16%) admitted they’re more confident giving advice to their child about staying safe in ‘real life’ compared to staying safe online.

However it’s clear from the survey that the current generation of digital natives genuinely value guidance from their parents. Of the 1,000 children surveyed whose parents had ever talked to them about online safety, nearly two thirds (60%) said that they had modified their online behaviour as a result.


To ensure parents can access the practical advice and support they need to help their children stay safe online, our O2 partnership will provide free one-on-one expert technical advice to parents via a dedicated new helpline, as well as interactive workshops delivered in workplaces and schools up and down the country.

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.

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.

"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."


Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, further expressed the need for this new partnership: "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."

Notes to editor

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total adult sample size was 20,014, of whom 2,009 were parents of children aged 8 to 13. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 13th August 2015. Total children's sample size was 1,142 aged 8 to 13. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31st July - 7th August 2015. Both surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+) and all GB children (aged 8 to 13).

*Parents of 8-13 year olds were asked at what age they believed they should initiate conversations with their children about offline wellbeing and safety topics (road safety, stranger danger, sex education, how to stay safe from sexual abuse, friendship difficulties, dealing with death, watching age-inappropriate content on TV (e.g. pornography, violent videos/ games), body image and bullying) as well as online wellbeing and safety topics ( sharing personal information online, using webcams and online video chat safely, keeping internet settings secure, using location settings, viewing age-inappropriate content online (e.g. pornography, violent online videos/ games), creating social media profiles, talking or meeting strangers online, cyber-bullying and sexting).

On average, parents believed they should initiate conversations about these offline topics at the age of 6.51, and about these online topics at the age of 8.9.

The means did not include those that said 'Not applicable - I don't think parents should ever initiate a conversation with their children about this topic'.