Responsible Internet Providers

A couple of weeks ago I went to do the CEOP Ambassador training as a follow on to the Think U Know internet safety training I did in January. Over lunch, we had the usual time to ‘network’ and I got chatting to a lady from the mobile phone and broadband company O2 (quite what mobile phones have to do with an oxygen molecule is beyond me). She was doing the training as she goes out to schools and helps to inform kids about safety on the internet, either on mobile phones or on PCs. She told me that it wasn’t just an O2 thing, but they were partners with Microsoft (funny how I can’t find much about Apple being proactive about child internet safety) and a couple of other companies whose names escape me. One of the things she told me was that they didn’t go into a school and say ‘we’re O2 / Microsoft, we do this, aren’t we great?’, but they educated the kids about online safety without blowing their own trumpets. Very commendable.

Then last week I got an email telling me about a conference O2 is holding about online safety, especially with regard to mobile phones. This is quite timely as O2 have taken a bit of flack recently as they’ve decided to stop mobile phone users accessing certain website unless the user is proven over 18. I mentioned this to my dinner companion and she told me that this was being applied to all their customers both new and existing. We discussed the merits of the idea and I have to say I agree that it’s a good idea. It may be slightly inconvenient that I cannot access something ‘adult’ on my phone when using the mobile broadband (the block isn’t in place if you use Wi-Fi of course), but it means that I have a choice. And to be honest I’ll choose to keep it in place.

The conference O2 are running is on the morning of the 22nd March at their head office in Slough. I must admit I’d like to go, but I have to be at work. However, I will be able to watch some of it as it is being streamed. From the agenda, it looks like some big cheeses from the worlds of both content (Facebook, the BBC, O2) and childcare / safety (CEOP, NSPCC, Ofcom) are attending. O2 are taking the subject of internet safety for young people and they can only be congratulated for raising awareness of this important area. They even have a website aimed at parents to help them keep their kids safe.

Online safety for young people is an important area these days and whether we are parents or Scout Leaders (or both) we ought to make ourselves aware of the potential dangers out there on this wonderful resource the internet. Companies like O2 and Microsoft should be applauded for the work they do, trying to educate their customers.