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Vodafone Digital Grandparenting poll: Half of UK parents who share childcare with grandparents call for support for ‘Granny Nannies’

17 Sep 2012Digital Society
7 minute read
  • 50% of parents who share childcare with grandparents want more education or support for grandparents in managing children's use of technology
  • Vodafone Group to launch digital guidelines for grandparent child carers who worry about digital technology and internet use

'Accessing inappropriate online videos that use bad language’, 'Spending too much time on a smartphone' and 'Communicating with strangers on social networks' are among the issues encountered by grandparents looking after grandchildren aged 15 and under, finds a YouGov online poll for Vodafone Group.

More than one third of UK grandparents (37pc) who care for their grandchildren worry about their grandchildren’s use of technology and the internet.

Half of UK parents of children under 15 and 50pc of grandparents who care for their grandchildren say grandparents should receive better support or education to help them manage children's use of technology while in the care of grandparents

The Digital Grandparenting poll, carried out online by YouGov for Vodafone Group, spoke with UK parents of under 15-year-olds who share childcare responsibilities with grandparents, as well as grandparent child carers. The research comes ahead of the launch of the second Vodafone Digital Parenting guide in Westminster on Tuesday 18th September, which will for the first time contain detailed information and guidelines for grandparents on managing children's use of technology and the internet.

With more grandparents now shouldering the childcare burden, 8pc of parents are aware of their children taking advantage of their grandparents’ unfamiliarity with technology to, for example, access inappropriate content online, sign-up to social networks or spend too much time on smartphones or tablets. While half of parents want better support or education for grandparents around children’s use of technology, just 11pc of parents polled said they worry about children accessing inappropriate content while in their grandparents care.

Only 29pc of parents whose children are cared for by grandparents have spoken with the grandparents about online safety and their children’s use of technology. Of the grandparents polled, 31pc said they had agreed rules with the child's parents regarding the use of technology. However, 44pc of parents said they have set family ground rules around their child's use of the internet and devices such as smartphones.

Grandparents are concerned about the responsibility of managing their grandchildren's online and technology usage. Thirty-seven per cent of grandparents who assist with childcare say they worry about their grandchildren’s use of technology and internet-based devices.

The research found that grandchildren are proving valuable teachers, with 29pc of grandparents who look after children aged 15 and under saying part of their digital knowledge has come from their grandchildren. As many as 55pc of grandparents use technology with their grandchildren for fun, from playing online video games to staying in touch through Skype.

Of the 8pc of parents who say their children have taken advantage of the children's grandparents to access inappropriate content, they mention a lack of monitoring by grandparents, children accessing social networks while not supervised, watching age inappropriate video online when in their grandparents' care and using bad language in conversations with other players on online games.

Annie Mullins OBE, Vodafone's Global Head of Content Standards, said: "With more grandparents helping with childcare, they are keen to do their part and set the same rules as those set by the children’s parents. The Digital Grandparenting poll shows that many grandparents who look after their grandchildren have concerns about their grandchildren’s use of technology and online safety. We want to use the Vodafone Digital Parenting guide to help build confidence and inform parents and grandparents of the ways to help children get the most out of technology and the internet, while understanding the hazards.”

Geraldine Bedell, Editor of Gransnet, said: "Two big changes have occurred in grandparents' lives in recent years: they're doing far more childcare and they're getting into technology, with over-65s the fastest-growing group online. Discussions on our forums show that grandchildren are often far more advanced in technology use than their grandparents, who feel anxious about what boundaries they should set and how to go do it. Gransnet is delighted by Vodafone's and Digital Parenting's emphasis on involving grandparents in digital safety discussions - it's vital, because grandparents are now an integral part of the online world."

Vodafone Digital Parenting: Guidelines for Grandparents

  • Find out from the child’s parents what technology rules they have in place at home
  • Put passwords on a smartphone, tablet or PC
  • Use parental controls, such as Vodafone’s Guardian App
  • Apply what you teach the child in the real world to the digital world
  • Take an interest in how your grandchildren use digital technologies
  • Join grandchildren when they play on their games consoles, or watch TV programmes with them on BBC iPlayer
  • Visit where you can download Digital Parenting magazine and get information for grandparents

Vodafone Digital Grandparenting poll: key results

Parents online who have children aged 15 or under who are cared for by their children’s grandparents

  • 44% have set family ground rules around accessing the internet through a PC or other internet-enabled device.
  • 29% say they have spoken to the child's grandparents about their use of technology and online safety.
  • 8% say they are aware of their children taking advantage of a grandparents' lack of digital knowledge to access inappropriate content
  • 63% said their child's grandparents are frequent internet users
  • 11% worry about their children accessing inappropriate content when in a grandparent's care (85% have no concerns)
  • 50% of parents with under 15-year-olds who share childcare responsibilities with grandparents want more education or support for grandparents around children's use of technology (35% do not see the need for such support for grandparents)
  • 8% said there have been issues concerning their child’s use of technology while in a grandparent’s care

Grandparents online who care for their grandchildren aged 15 or under

  • 31% have agreed rules with the child's parents around the use of technology
  • 13% of grandparents have had the child’s parents help set up parental controls on devices in their home
  • 29% said their grandchildren have helped them learn how to use technology
  • 55% use technology or go online with their grandchildren for fun
  • 37% worry about children using technology or being on the internet (60% do not)
  • 50% think there should be more support or education for grandparents around children’s use of technology (11% ‘Don’t know’)
  • 15% of grandparents worry about how their grandchildren’s parents manage their grandchildren’s use of technology

The YouGov poll for Vodafone spoke with 982 parents and 895 grandparents, of which 700 and 724 had children/grandchildren cared for by their grandparents/them.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4133 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 10th-12th September 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults.

For further information:
Vodafone UK Media Relations
Telephone: 01635 666777
follow us: @vodafonegroup

About Vodafone's Digital Parenting
The first Vodafone Digital Parenting magazine was launched in November 2010 by Annie Mullins OBE, Vodafone’s Global Head of Content Standards. While the print run was 10,000, this rose to 250,000 following demand from schools and parents. The latest edition will be available online at with a print run of 500,000, following demand from UK schools. Digital Parenting includes issues relating to the role of technology in children’s lives, including safety, responsible use, education, health, child development, commerce, legal issues, grandparenting and security. It gives parents access to expert advice and guidance with articles from more than 25 digital experts, including psychiatrists, parenting and grandparenting advisors, industry experts, academics, children’s charities and teachers.

About Vodafone
Vodafone is one of the world's largest mobile communications companies by revenue with approximately 406 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as at 30 June 2012. Vodafone currently has equity interests in over 30 countries across five continents and more than 50 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit

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