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Telco, Online Safety Organisation And UK Grime Artist: Trio Teaming Up To Teach Kiwi Kids About Smartphone Safety

  • 77% of parents worry about giving their child a phone with internet access
  • 92% of parents believe their child would benefit from a conversation about the safe use of devices online
  • But 71% of parents didn’t know of any services helping kids learn about phone and online safety

Getting your first phone is a huge milestone for most children, but with 87% of parents worried about what their children are viewing online, smartphone safety is a huge concern.

To address the issue, 2degrees has launched the First Phones programme. The initiative is designed to provide the tools and resources needed to teach kids the good things and the bad things about being online.

Backed by Netsafe, the initiative will include an information hub and ten safety tips featured on a brightly coloured, specially-designed box for parents to put a new or hand-me-down smartphone into.

When opened, the box unfolds to create an engaging ‘unboxing’ experience for the recipient. It also includes a templated agreement to help parents and kids agree the ground rules to phone behaviour

But that’s not all, the tips have also been used by renowned UK grime artist, Scrufizzer in a new track to promote the ‘Good Tings and Bad Tings’ of getting your first phone.

Titled ‘Good Tings’, a nod to constant notifications, or ‘tings’ received as alerts, the track is now on Spotify and YouTube. So far the track has been played more than XXX times and has received positive reviews from fans.

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With 28% of parents saying their children had an unwanted experience online, typically bullying, 2degrees hopes the tools can better prepare and inform parents and kids alike about the highs and lows of using the internet.

Emma-Kate Greer, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at 2degrees said the programme was influenced by the growing number of parents seeking out advice and information on smartphone safety, and the company’s Fighting for Fair stance.

“As a major telco we recognised we had a responsibility to support parents and children to have these conversations about being safe online. I’m also a mum to three children aged nine, 10 and 12, prime First Phones territory, so it was also an issue we were navigating at home,” says Greer.

“We wanted to create a resource that would complement the work already being done by the likes of Netsafe in an easily accessible, engaging way, right at the moment the child was being handed their first phone.

“2degrees enables social connection with our products and services, but we also know most parents, around 87%, are worried about what their children see online.

“First Phones aims to help parents navigate this challenging issue by making it easier for them to have conversations with their children about being safe and cautious online. Both the box, track and the ten tips, use language, imagery and iconography that kids can relate to enjoy, which should help make those conversations easier for parents.”

The tips cover information about how to avoid scams, catfishing, misinformation, dealing with trolls and how like an elephant, the internet never forgets.

The initiative has received the backing and input of online safety organisation, Netsafe. Brent Carey, Chief Executive Officer at Netsafe said the initiative was important as it recognised a moment in time when parents and carers and children could and should be having a conversation about internet safety.

“Getting your first phone is incredibly exciting but also marks a time when young people are likely to start getting unrestricted internet access,” says Carey.

“Ninety-six per-cent of Kiwi youth will own a smartphone by the time they are 16. Because of this parents and carers need to have these conversations about safety with children they are responsible for at the earliest opportunity.

“The First Phones initiative provides that. The contract is akin to a driving licence and makes it easy for everyone to have the right conversations on how the phone will be used.”

Recognising the importance of the issue, 2degrees has made the accompanying resources free for everyone to access, with a limited run of free boxes available through 2degrees stores nationwide.

The boxes will be available in stores across the country from October 19. There is an information hub for parents, carers and children online at www.goodtings.nz.

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