10 – The official age children should own a smartphone

New survey by Internet Matters reveals how parents of 8-11 year olds want minimum age enforced for smartphone ownership

Internet Matters InfographicInternet Matters this week launched its ‘Back to School’ survey which reveals the majority of parents (84.6%) would like a minimum age for smartphone ownership in the UK - with age 10 being the most popular minimum age. With millions of children back to school this week, the new research shows that over half (65%) of 8-11 year olds own a smartphone and nearly a quarter (23%) of parents let their children take their phone to school. The survey is complimented by a Back to School e-safety advertising campaign and a new online safety guide by Internet Matters which helps parents keep their children safe online.

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager at Internet Matters, commented: ‘With such a huge amount of young people owning smartphones and the acceptable age of doing so being 10, parents need to be more aware than ever of what their children are doing online. That’s why we have launched our brand new online safety guide, so that parents remember these safety precautions in their back to school shopping list for their children.”

On the anniversary of changes to the National Curriculum in England, which made e-safety a compulsory topic for primary schools, the ‘Back to School’ survey shows parents believe the responsibility lies with them and schools to ensure their kids are safe online. Whilst nearly three quarters of parents (72%) said their primary school teaches their children e-safety, 67% of parents think it’s up to them to keep their kid’s safe online but 90% think schools could do more. Whilst mobile technology brings enormous benefits to young people, the majority of parents (82%) would prefer that mobile phones were not allowed in primary school.

The research highlighted huge regional variations of smartphone usage among children with Newcastle revealed to be the kids “smartphone capital of Britain” - with 90.5% of primary school children aged 8-11 owning one, compared to Manchester (65%), Birmingham (61%) and London (55%). Brighton and Hove came bottom of the table with 40%.

Child psychotherapist Catherine Knibbs commented: “It is no surprise that 10 appears to be the most popular age parents feel comfortable letting their children own a smartphone as this is the age that children move from a more simplistic view of the world to being more independent, think in a more complex way, and show the ability to understand the consequences of their actions. This adult-like behaviour in children makes parents feel more comfortable that their children are grown up enough to own a smartphone, but it’s a tough decision as parents need to balance this new found freedom with a level of supervision and boundary setting to ensure safe internet usage.”

Bunting, further commented: “Every parent agonises over that all-important decision of when to give their children a mobile phone. Whether it’s peer pressure, a sign of maturity, or out of peace of mind, every child is different and parents know intuitively what the right age is for their child. Giving children this great tool comes with responsibilities both for parents and children. We would urge parents to ensure they have the conversation with their children about how to be responsible on their phones and ensure that the safety settings are in place across all their devices and search engines.”

For more information on Internet Matters Back to School campaign please visit www.internetmatters.org.

Written by Internet Matters on September 03, 2015 12:33

Protect Their Curiosity

Internet Matters launches “Protect Their Curiosity” Campaign highlighting 21st Century children’s access to online pornography, violent videos as well as cyber-bullying and sexting trends.

IM Privacy CampaignParents are being urged to play a more active role in keeping their children safe online, with the launch of a new campaign designed to highlight the importance of parental controls in the digital age.

A series of powerful video clips have been created by Internet Matters - a not-for-profit organisation backed by the industry’s biggest broadband providers BT, Sky, TalkTalk, and Virgin Media - highlighting the real risks of children using the Internet without parental controls.

The Protect Their Curiosity campaign urges parents to activate safety filters on all computers, search engines, apps, smartphones and tablets to encourage children to be able to explore the digital world in a safer environment.

Carolyn Bunting, General Manager for Internet Matters, said: “The internet is the most important invention of our time – if not all time. As parents, we should encourage our children to explore and enjoy the freedom of the Internet. But we have a responsibility to protect their curiosity and prevent them from seeing stuff they don’t want to see.

“Setting parental controls is easy, and means parents and children can benefit from the very best of the Internet without any of the worry. However, according to our research, more than half of parents haven’t done it. Enabling these will go a long way towards ensuring children are safer in the digital world.”

Four videos have been produced to give parents insight into how their kids behave online and how they react to seeing inappropriate content.

Child actors have been used for the project to show how “an innocent search can turn bad in one click” on topics of pornography, violence, cyber-bullying and image sharing.

Each video shows a child using a computer or tablet but focuses purely on their face. A web wireframe appears on top of the video, hinting to the audience what the child is viewing online. The child’s expression changes from curiosity, to nervousness and then to distress. No children were exposed to any inappropriate content in the making of the films.

In one of the films, a young boy innocently searches a video-sharing service for films about ‘Pirates’. As well as the expected content, he is able to easily find a video of Somali pirates being killed by private security firms and mercenaries.

Carolyn Bunting added: “The videos might be uncomfortable viewing, but we wanted to show the reality of how a child’s innocent curiosity can turn into a distressing experience in just one click. Kids want to use the web in safety. They don’t want to be scared of what they might click on. A big step towards this lies with parents switching on every parental control available.”

Ms Bunting said it was also hugely important for parents to sit down and talk to their children about wider issues of cyber-bullying and image-sharing, and staying safe when they are online:

“In the same way that parents teach their children how to swim, cross the road or ride a bike, they need to spend time with their kids on-line to ensure they are safe on the digital highways of the Internet.”

The Protect Their Curiosity campaign is being backed by mum Lizi Patch – who says her son was left distressed after seeing a disturbing sex video aged 11 which was being shared around the school play ground.

Mum-of-two Lizi said: “It is incredibly important for parents to be involved in how their children use the Internet. My son was deeply affected by something he saw online on his mobile phone and ended up changing his phone settings to block out any future distressing content. We now have regular conversations.”

Find out more and view the Internet Matters Protect their Curiosity videos

Written by Internet Matters on July 02, 2015 09:17

Can your school help beat cyberbullying – one rhyme at a time?

Anti Bullying WeekThis year, Anti-Bullying Week (17th-21st November) is calling on the school community to take action to stop the bullying of all children and young people. With more and more children owning mobile devices and spending longer online and on social media, cyberbullying is becoming one of the most common forms of bullying and the source of increasing distress to children and concern to their parents and school leaders.

That’s why Internet Matters is helping to raise awareness of the important issues of online respect and cyberbullying by launching an exciting competition with the Anti-Bullying Alliance. The competition asks schools to create their own song, rap or poem on the subject of being respectful to others online to generate important discussions of this issue amongst students, teachers and parents, both inside and outside the classroom. The winners will be chosen by a panel of judges including singer and Internet Matters ambassador, Sophie Ellis-Bextor:

“I’m really excited to be part of a competition that raises awareness of such an important and growing issue for schoolchildren today. I’m looking forward to hearing about how children themselves feel about cyberbullying and their thoughts on tackling it together – I’m sure there will be some inspirational entries.”

Internet Matters CompetitionThere are separate competitions for Primary and Secondary schools. The winning Primary school will receive a visit and inspirational assembly from Olympic medallist Christine Ohuruogu MBE, and the winning Secondary school group will enjoy a special daytrip to Sky’s TV studios in West London where they’ll make their own film.

To support schools participation in the competition, there’s also a lesson plan for teachers on how to help children understand the issues and lead into the creation of their competition entry. This includes notes on how the activity supports the wider curriculum.

The competition is open until 28th November 2014 with the lesson plan and full details about how to enter on the Internet Matters website. Start getting creative!

Written by Internet Matters on November 06, 2014 12:26

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