Survey: UK parents would pay for mobile child protection controls


Mobile operators could be missing out on an extra 4 million in revenue each month by not charging customers for child protection tools, AdaptiveMobile claims.

The mobile security vendor claims parents would be willing to pay an extra 5 a month to mobile operators for a service that protects their children from accessing inappropriate content online.

In the firm's latest Global Security Insights for Mobile report, two thirds (65 per cent) of UK parents aired concerns about their child's safety when using mobile devices to access the internet.

Sixty-seven per cent of respondents said they would like to use parental controls on their child's phone, while 70 per cent would like to tailor their child's device management as they get older.

Just over a 1,000 UK parents, with children aged between eight and 15 years old, took part in the survey.

Seventy one per cent said they would be willing to pay mobile operators to protect their children from online threats, with 25 per cent willing to pay up to 5 a month. A further 21 per cent said they would pay up to 10.

Ciaran Bradley, vice president of handset security at AdaptiveMobile, said operators are missing a trick by not charging more for children protection.

"Everyone is aware of the online risks that face children growing up today, but operators need to realise that this is an opportunity for them to more effectively support parents and familiesm," said Bradley.

"With 17% of 8-to-15 year olds owning smartphones, this is a significant portion of the UK population."

IT Pro flagged up AdaptiveMobile's findings to several mobile operators, including O2 and Vodafone, who said they already offer a comprehensive set of parental controls for their customers.

In a statement to IT Pro, Vodafone said most of its handsets come with a content control bar to block access to 18-rated material.

The firm also offers a free Android app called Vodafone Guardian that lets parents control who phones their child.

"We can only manage 18-rated content where we have control over access to the internet through our own server, which is the case with the majority of the devices we offer," said a company spokesperson.

"The exception is Blackberry devices, as RIM use their own servers."

Meanwhile, O2 said it works with primary schools to help teach children about the importance of staying safe online.

It also has a dedicated team in-house that works with the police on child protection matters.

"Parents can activate Parental Control, a restricted browsing environment or walled garden' on a child's mobile [and] an age verification process restricts access to 18 classification mobile services," an O2 spokesperson told IT Pro.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.