EE has launched PhoneSmart, the first phone Licence, offering a free online programme that provides young people with the tools and confidence to use phone technology safely and responsibly.
In collaboration with Internet Matters, and in consultation with Home-Start, ChildNet, Marie Collins Foundation and the Anti-Bullying Alliance, the Licence teaches kids about key components of phone safety across four modules including online hate, digital wellbeing, staying safe online and digital & media literacy.
The free-to-access programme, which takes approximately one hour to complete and features a range of engaging storylines and interactive quizzes and activities, will highlight the benefits and dangers of tech use, and provide a platform for children to understand how to report instances of online abuse, hate, discrimination and cyberbullying.
Research from Ofcom revealed that 49% of eight to 11 year-olds now own their own smartphone. That number increases to a whopping 91% for 12 to 15 year olds, with 81% having had at least one potentially harmful experience online in the past year. As a result, adults are becoming increasingly wary of the challenges presented by giving a child their own device.
A survey of UK parents, commissioned by EE, has highlighted that almost a third (30%) of parents are less worried about their child’s first day of school than them receiving their first phone. The survey also revealed that just 21% of parents think children should be given complete privacy when it comes to their phone, while 69% believe it is ok to check their child’s phone while they are asleep.
Furthermore it highlighted that prior to giving their child a phone 87% of parents had a conversation with their kids around online dangers, positioning phone safety as a prevalent issue for parents.
The EE PhoneSmart Licence will look to combat these issues, preparing children to navigate the online world independently as they get their phone, and reassuring parents that their child is aware of their new-found responsibility as a digital citizen.
To launch the Licence, EE has unveiled a new short film, featuring musician Clement Marfo, highlighting not only the breadth of things that can be done with a phone, from creating new dance routines to learning a new skill, but also the dangers that children may be exposed to.
Marc Allera, CEO of EE, said:
“Our EE PhoneSmart Licence is designed to prepare children for the big wide world that a connected device can open up for them, and give them the tools to stay safe and be kind online.
As the UK’s best network, and with a desire to connect for good, we’re playing our part in helping educate young people – not just EE customers – with a free online programme that will gives parents and guardians the confidence to prepare their child with the digital skills they need for a brighter future.”
Available to everyone, not just EE customers, the EE PhoneSmart Licence will look to engage hundreds of thousands of young people and forms part of BT Skills for Tomorrow, which is helping 25 million people in the UK make the most of life in the digital world. The programme is completely free and designed to help people across the UK – from children and their parents, older and more vulnerable people, to job seekers and small businesses.
It offers a wide range of free courses, webinars and advice anyone can use to boost their confidence and understanding of digital tools and technology to make daily life better and realise their long-term ambitions.
EE PhoneSmart Licence Modules
Online hate: Understanding inclusivity and identifying hate online
Digital wellbeing: Understanding the impact that screen time & tech on health
Staying Safe Online: Understanding the 4 Cs (content, contact, conduct and contract risks)
Digital & Media Literacy: Understanding fake news and social media as an information source
To launch the PhoneSmart Licence, EE has teamed up with parent, singer and actress Louise Redknapp:
“There are so many things to consider when giving your child a phone: it really is a minefield. The scariest thing is, once the phone is in their hands, the parent no longer has control over what they’re seeing or accessing. The responsibility shifts to them, and that is huge! It’s a really big decision to decide when the time is right.
“Having this Licence from EE reassures me that my child has an understanding of phone safety. It really helps puts my mind at ease that my child understands how to use their device in the safest, most productive way.”
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