EE dusts off Dennis the Menace to help protect kids online


Research from EE finds 60% of parents fear their kids don’t how to protect themselves when using their phone – so it has drafted in the Beano for an educational campaign, just in case any of them know what that is.

The research by EE also found that 52% of parents think that they would not be able to survive the online world if they were a child today, and while 74% of them have tried to educate their children, 55% said that if their child saw something unsuitable online they wouldn’t know how to stop them seeing it again.

Only 35% of parents think their kids are always truthful about their identity or age online, while 10% reckon their offspring are ‘usually untruthful’ about their age.  Furthermore 24% of parents are more worried about their child’s activity online than offline, 24% worry that phones actually make their child unhappy, and 66% want online platforms to do more to protect children.

To cut a long slew of statistics short, many parents are understandably worried about what kids are getting up to on their phones. This is all presented to us in order to unveil the PhoneSmart Licence, which is an online course EE has put together in partnership with Internet Matters, and is designed to educate children ‘on how to stay safe and be kind online.’

EE have opted for Dennis the Menace from the Beano to be the poster boy for the course, in which kids can read a comic strip which shows Dennis picking up his first phone at an EE store before making prank calls, uploading a video of his cousin Minnie without her consent and downloading age inappropriate apps. Presumably all this is designed as a launch pad to help talk to children about what to avoid online, but we’ll wager the first question they’ll have is ‘what is a Beano’?


As part of this EE has shared some top tips for kids using smartphones – which include encouraging them to set up their own web filters so they only see age appropriate things, tell an adult if someone is rude online, to check whether apps have a PEGI rating and whether it is appropriate for their age, set reminders to take a break from the phones to give their eyes a rest.

“As a lifelong Beano fan it’s a real joy to see characters I’ve loved grapple with the same challenges every parent faces when their kids explore the online world,” said Mat Sears, Director of Corporate Affairs, Consumer Division, at EE. “From learning who to trust online, through to which apps and games are safer to use – our comic strips provide parents and kids alike a fun and engaging way to learn how to safely use their phones.”

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters added: “Resources such as EE’s PhoneSmart Licence are helping to address the need for educational resources for young people and their parents. Even in an environment where the internet is second nature, campaigns such as this are vital in helping to increase understanding of the risks of the digital world and how to overcome them.”

Of course there’s the option of not giving your kid an unprotected smartphone, but then you’d have to put up with the earache.

All in all we’re not sure if Dennis the Menace resonates with kids as much as it did in, say, 1938 when the Beano launched – but if you’ve decided to deliver some online safety tips to kids, you’ve got to sweeten the pill somehow. Although encouraging them to adopt a pious respect for the PEGI rating system, or taking responsibility for blocking themselves out of anything not age appropriate seems like it would have about as much chance of succeeding whatever cartoon character you drafted in to deliver the message – probably not much.


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