In a unique partnership, 2Degrees, Netsafe, and a renowned UK grime artist are joining forces to educate Kiwi children about smartphone safety. A recent survey revealed that 77% of parents are concerned about giving their child a phone with internet access, and 92% believe their offspring would benefit from guidance on secure online device usage. Surprisingly, 71% of parents were unaware of any services helping children understand phone and online safety.
2degrees has responded to these concerns by introducing the First Phones programme, designed to provide the tools and resources needed to help children understand the positives and negatives of being online. The initiative includes an information hub and ten safety tips featured on a vibrantly coloured, specially designed box intended to house either a new or hand-me-down smartphone.
The innovative box aims to engage recipients by unfolding into an interactive unboxing experience. It additionally includes a templated agreement to facilitate a dialogue between parents and children, setting down the rules for responsible phone usage. The safety tips are brought to life through a track by UK grime artist Scrufizzer called 'Good Tings', a reference to the constant notifications or "tings" received as alerts on smartphones. The song, focusing on the "Good Tings and Bad Tings" of having a first phone, is now available on Spotify and YouTube, where it is gaining traction with fans.
With 28% of parents revealing their children had suffered unwanted experiences online, typically bullying, 2degrees hopes the First Phones resources will adequately equip and educate both parents and children about the highs and lows of internet usage. Emma-Kate Greer, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at 2degrees, noted that the programme evolved in response to an increasing parental demand for advice on smartphone safety. As a mother of three children in prime 'First Phones territory', Greer believes that the company has a responsibility to support parents and children in navigating online safety issues.
First Phones is designed to utilise language, imagery, and iconography that resonate with children, making these essential conversations easier for parents. The advice covers a spectrum of online safety topics, from how to avoid scams and handle trolls to the lasting nature of internet activity.
The initiative has garnered the support and input of online safety organisation Netsafe. Brent Carey, Chief Executive Officer at Netsafe, acknowledged the importance of the scheme, comparing the included contract to a 'digital driving licence'. As 96% of Kiwi youth will own a smartphone by the age of 16, he stressed the necessity for caregivers to initiate internet safety discussions with children they're responsible for at the earliest opportunity.
Recognising the significance of smartphone safety, 2degrees is making the associated resources freely available. Commencing on October 19, a limited quantity of complimentary boxes will be distributed through 2degrees stores nationwide. The initiative is also planning school visits to promote the programme and collect feedback.