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This generation of parents and kids need new tools for digital lives

1 Jun 2016Empowering People
3 minute read

We should not be surprised that the International Day for Protection of Children (or Universal Children’s Day) and the United Nations Global Day of Parents are both celebrated on 1 June each year.

The Rights of the Child includes the right to family life. The resolution for Parents Day recognises the role of parents in the family, which has primary responsibility for the nurturing and protection of children.

Today’s technology has many benefits for families but it also brings some challenges. This is the first generation of parents having to support their children’s digital lives. They have no such experience from their own childhood to draw upon.

Digital lives are important. Parents may see their children’s online and offline lives as distinctly separate (“Why don’t you put that tablet down and go and play with your friends”). However, the child often cannot see any distinction (“I’m playing with them now”).

Vodafone is committed to helping families to develop digital parenting skills. We also want to help children to become confident and resilient online.

Each year, Vodafone, in partnership with Parent Zone, distributes 1 million copies of the Vodafone Digital Parenting Magazine to UK schools for free. There is also a digital version available to download.

The Vodafone Digital Parenting magazine provides practical help on how to set up online tools to support parents and children, and includes independent expert advice (like the best phones and apps for kids) plus articles about pertinent issues relating to digital parenting.

One of the most significant digital parenting issues is cyber-bullying. A global survey last year by Vodafone and YouGov of 5,000 teenagers across 11 countries revealed that around one in five teenagers have been cyberbullied. More than half of respondents said they fear cyberbullying more than face-to-face bullying. 41% commented that cyberbullying has made them feel depressed or helpless. Many young people find it hard to talk about cyberbullying with their parents or guardians and aren’t sure how to support friends who are affected by it. 43% said they would find it hard to support a friend who had been bullied on social media as they “could not find the right words.”

This research led Vodafone to launch the Be Strong Online initiative with The Diana Award, providing modules for teachers to use to build online confidence and resilience. We also designed a set of emojis for when the right words cannot be found. Over 1,500 schools in the UK are using the resources. There were also 80 million interactions with the emojis on Snapchat in less than a week. Vodafone continues to support parents and children in 2016. The fifth edition of the Digital Parenting Magazine will be out in September. Training sessions for the Be Strong Online Modules will start in the new school year.

In the 21st century it is increasingly difficult for parents to protect children and ensure a happy family life without spanning both the digital and offline worlds. Vodafone is committed to help families to have a healthy digital life.

Paul Cording is part of Vodafone Group’s Consumer Regulation team. He has responsibility for Vodafone’s standards and policies for the protection of customers with particular emphasis on young users accessing new digital services online. Paul joined Vodafone Group’s Content Standards team in 2004 and has been instrumental in ensuring implementation of internal policies and self-regulatory agreements as well as the delivery of the Digital Parenting and Vodafone Guardian projects.

  • Cyber security
  • Digital skills
  • Empowering People
  • Innovation
  • Technology

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