Workplace programme gets UK parents switched on to Online safety

  • Microsoft to help parents protect their children online with new “Safer Families” programme in partnership with major employers
  • Microsoft survey finds almost 4 million UK parents have not set up any family safety settings on their children’s smartphones, games consoles, PCs or laptops
  • Over half of 5-10 year olds in the UK left using the internet unsupervised at home

17 June, London – Microsoft is today launching its “Safer Families” programme, aimed at helping parents in the UK get over their ‘parental tech paralysis’ and switch on safety settings across the technology in their homes.

Research released today by Microsoft shows that despite 98% of UK parents with children at home agreeing that protecting their children online is necessary, almost 50% have not set up any family safety settings on the technology their children use. Of these, 50% do not know how to do so, and 50% know but haven’t yet turned them on. The survey interviewed 1000 parents across the UK who have children at home aged between 5-16 years.

There are 7.7 million parents with children at home in the UK, which means that nearly 4 million parents could be doing more to protect their children online . To help parents get to grips with the tools at their disposal, Microsoft employees will be visiting workplaces across the UK. Working together with parenting charity The Parent Zone, they will educate parents to use the tools and information available to set up family safety settings on their children’s Microsoft smartphones, games consoles, PCs and laptops.

Nicola Hodson, COO (General Manager of Marketing and Operations), Microsoft Ltd said:

“Nothing can replace talking to your children about what is great about the internet and about its dangers, but we know how difficult it can be for parents to keep track of all the technology in their homes. Our advice is to really think hard about letting your children be online unsupervised. Make sure you use the tools available to block access to inappropriate websites, films and games – especially with phones and games consoles where you are less likely to be around. Parental controls aren’t the whole answer but they can really help. If you can’t get to one of our employer workshops then go to the Microsoft Safer Families website or ask a friend to help you set them up.”

Over the next twelve months, Microsoft Ltd employees will be holding free ‘Safer Families’ workshops at workplaces across the UK, starting at some of Argos’ 740 locations. In these sessions, Microsoft will talk to employees who are parents about the benefits and potential risks associated with children using the internet and they will provide guidance on how to talk to children about staying safer online. The Safer Families workshops will be complemented by a series of “How to” videos so parents can follow easy, step by step instructions on how to implement safety settings across Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, Windows 7 and Windows 8 in their homes.

John Carr, Secretary of the UK’s Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety (CHIS), said:

“The internet is a great place for children to learn and develop in ways that my generation and others could only have dreamt of. However, despite the many benefits, online technologies do bring a level of risk so it is important that parents engage with these challenges proactively and adopt the tools and solutions available to them. What makes Microsoft’s Safer Families initiative unique is the way in which it’s taking these practical tools directly to parents in their workplaces.”

Microsoft has a deep heritage in child online safety and The Safer Families programme is part of this on-going work. This has been developed in conjunction with The Parent Zone, an organisation which works with parents closely on how to tackle parental issues in a digital age.

Claire Lilley, Head of Child Safety Online, NSPCC, said:

“It’s great to see Microsoft helping parents keep up with their children’s digital lives through the Safer Families workshops. The Internet can be an amazing space for children to learn, play and socialise but there are dangers, so it’s vital that parents have the knowledge and skills to help their children make safe decisions. Parents don’t need to be digital experts, they simply need to take an interest in their children’s online world and to keep the conversation flowing.”

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO, The Parentzone, said:

“We often hear from parents that it can be really difficult to get the information and support they need to make sure their children can enjoy the internet safely. Taking that information to where parents are is the best way to make sure they have the tools and resources they need – which is why joining up with Microsoft for this workplace programme is so important. We know that we will reach parents from all walks of life, without expecting them to give up their valuable free time – they just need to go to work as normal and we’ll take the information to them.”

The research released today also shows that:

  1. Three quarters of 5-16 year olds are using the internet daily.
  2. Almost three quarters of UK parents allow their children online regularly unsupervised.
  3. 5-16 year olds spend more than 3 hours a day using technology, which accounts for the majority of their time when they are not at school.
  4. The biggest concern for almost all parents surveyed about the safety of their children online was sexual content and online bullying.

Parents who would like to attend a Safer Family workshop or would like further information about how to implement safety settings on Microsoft technology, including the Safer Families video, should visit:

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

About Parentzone

The Parent Zone exists to make Britain safer online and off. It is the only parenting organisation in the UK that specialises in eSafety. Vicki Shotbolt is the CEO of The Parent Zone and is on the Executive Board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

For press queries please call 07795 047469 or email [email protected]

About Research

Microsoft and Edelman/Edelman Berland developed a bespoke questionnaire and conducted 10 minute online interviews with 1,000 parents of children aged 5 to 16 within the UK.

The sample size was N = 1.022 respondents, the structure of the sample / respondents 40,1 % male and 59,9 % female, the methodology was an online survey in the UK and the fieldwork was completed between April & May 2014.


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