Internet safety group to help parents shield kids from dodgy sites

Britain’s ‘big four’ providers set rivalry aside to promote internet safety among kids and teenagers by educating parents in how to protect the whole family online…

Internet providers are a competitive bunch, usually squabbling over who's got the meanest, leanest, cheapest and fastest broadband of 'em all.

Today they've put differences aside and teamed up to launch Internet Matters, a non-profit group to promote online safety for children and families.

BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk are working together to educate parents about how to ensure their young 'uns aren't exposed to the dark side of the web.

Carolyn Bunting, the group's general manager, said: "Internet Matters will help parents understand the issues children can face online whether they're five-years-old or 15."

"We believe this is the first time the major broadband providers in any country have joined forces for such a venture. The UK is therefore leading the way when it comes to child internet safety."

A recent Internet Matters survey found that 74% of parents want more information and advice about internet safety, while 53% don't use parental controls and 45% don't monitor their kids' online activity at home.

Pop star and mum of three, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, and her own mum Janet Ellis, a former Blue Peter presenter, have signed up as ambassadors for the campaign.

Sophie said: "Children these days are so lucky to grow up with access to the internet - it's an amazing place for learning and discovery.

"Mum and I feel really strongly about internet safety and are proud to be working with Internet Matters to make sure parents know how to get advice. Today's parents need to deal with issues that didn't even exist when we were growing up."

All major UK providers now offer parental controls with their packages, many of which apply a 'network-level' filter that applies to every device - be it smartphone, tablet, laptop or console - that uses a broadband connection.

However, if you haven't yet activated the service, which may not have existed when you first signed up - particularly if you haven't changed provider for years - you may need to contact your provider to get it set up.

Nowadays, when you switch provider, this is all part of the sign-up process. There's still a lot more that parents can do to protect children online, though, besides just installing parental controls. For more information, visit Internetmatters.org.

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