Vodafone and NSPCC launch phone advice tool for worried parents

Operator Vodafone has teamed up with children’s charity the NSPCC to develop a new online platform tasked with providing parents with resources and info around buying their child’s first phone.

The new platform is designed to be a source of practical resources around things like setting parental controls on phones and advice on the best deals on new and refurbished devices, which is apparently supplementary to a series of ‘Digital Parenting’ resources Vodafone has previously put out there.

To articulate the parental anxiety this seemingly unnamed new platform is supposed to address, Vodafone presents us with an array of stats on the subject based on some research. For example, choosing when to give a child their first mobile phone is apparently one of the hardest decisions a parent will make, with 36% saying it ranked equally as hard as choosing which school their children should go to.

74% felt it was important their child has a phone by the time they go to secondary school, though expressed that they were ‘in the dark’ about certain apps favoured by the youth, such as BeReal (93%), Snapchat (85%) and TikTok (81%). 53% said the decision to get a phone is difficult because they are worried about them seeing inappropriate content or being bullied online.

“We know a child’s first phone is a big moment for families – exciting for children but bringing with it new concerns for parents and carers,” said Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer at Vodafone UK. “Our research highlights that many mums, dads and carers don’t feel confident they know all they need to keep their children safe online or where to start with choosing their first phone.

“That’s why, for well over a decade, we’ve been committed to helping them navigate being online with their children. And now, working with the NSPCC, we’re supporting them with more practical resources and tips to give them the tools and confidence they need when their children step into the online world with their first phone.”

Kate Edwards, Associate Head of Child Safety Online at NSPCC added: “At the NSPCC, we are doing everything within our power to ensure that children are safe when they enter the online world, including campaigning for a more robust online safety bill. We know a child’s first steps, first words and first day at school are all exciting moments for families but getting a first phone is one which can be tempered by fear. This is why our partnership with Vodafone is so important, together we can support parents to understand how to keep children safe.”

Since so little is properly understood about the psychological impact the emergence of the smartphone and the parade of algorithmically addictive and sometimes toxic social media apps that followed it into the world has had on us, its understandably a tough choice as to when it’s time to introduce kids to them. Since the world they will inherit will in some way shape or form be defined by the technology, abstinence is perhaps not the best approach either.

It’s arguable that navigating this very modern parental conundrum is preferable however to any heavy handed and clumsy government intervention in the matter, as is currently on the table in the form of the Online Safety Bill.


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