UK mobile network EE has launched a specially-created Beano comic strip starring iconic characters Mrs Menace and Dennis, showcasing the potential perils of the online world, and providing parents with actionable tips to ensure their kids stay safe and are kind online. The strip aims to help parents learn how to support and educate their children on safe phone usage.
The comic strip shows Dennis picking up his first phone at an EE store before getting into some characteristic scrapes by making prank calls; uploading a video of his cousin Minnie without her consent; and downloading age-inappropriate apps – all things that can occur without the correct guidance.
As well as the comic strip japes, the Beano content also provides parents with useful tips and advice to help parents support their children to be a responsible online citizen and to use their phone safely.
The strip was created following a study carried out by EE that found that 60 per cent of parents fear their kids know very little about how to protect themselves when using their phone. 52 per cent of parents said they would not be able to survive the online world if they were a child today.
While 74 per cent of mums and dads have tried to educate their children, 55 per cent admitted that if their child saw something unsuitable online they wouldn’t know how to stop them seeing it again.
What’s more, parents’ fears aren’t only focused on exposure to unsuitable content, but also on their kids’ own behaviour, too. Only 35 per cent of parents think their kids are always truthful about their identity or age online, with 10 per cent going further and saying they think their kids are usually untruthful about their age. Furthermore 24 per cent of parents are more worried about their child’s activity online than offline. The data also showed that 20 per cent fear that their child could be guilty of sending unkind messages themselves although 57 per cent admitted that they don’t look at their kids’ phones for fear of what they’ll find.
66 per cent of responding parents called for online platforms to do more to protect children. To address this, EE has created the PhoneSmart Licence – an online course educating children on how to stay safe and be kind online. Created in partnership with experts from Internet Matter, it is available to all children in the UK, irrespective of which mobile network they are with.
It includes four modules…
Online hate: Understanding inclusivity and identifying hate online
Digital wellbeing: Understanding the impact that screen time and tech have 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
“As a lifelong Beano fan it’s a real joy to see characters I’ve loved grapple with the same challenges every parent faces when their kids explore the online world,” said Mat Sears, Director of Corporate Affairs, Consumer Division at EE. “From learning who to trust online, through to which apps and games are safer to use, our comic strips provide parents and kids alike a fun and engaging way to learn how to safely use their phones.”
You can find out more about the campaign and see the comic strip here.