Mobile telephones now offer more and more services, including full access to the internet. Although an excellent way for children to communicate, various chatrooms, blogs, picture- and video-sharing sites and social networks can present dangers.
The internet and mobile telephones have become an integral part of children’s lives. As children grow up, they more frequently encounter different communications tools which can pose threats for which no effective protective measures have yet been identified. According to findings from research conducted among primary school children in January 2009 by the Research Institute of Children’s Psychology and Psychopathology, a total of 97.2% Slovak children have internet access. Over 30% of children, mainly from the higher grades at primary school, have already been confronted with pornographic content over the internet or via mobile handsets, with slightly fewer encountering drugs and racism. A total of 14.3% of eighth-grade students admitted that they themselves had forwarded erotic pictures and videos, thus becoming an active threat to others. Close to half of eighth-graders have already received sexual propositions made via the internet or a mobile phone, while 11.3% were subject to bullying and 10.6% stated they had had to deal with unpleasant consequences from internet- or mobile-based violence accompanied by feelings of fear, anxiety and concern.
As one of the largest providers of mobile internet services, T-Mobile is aware of the threats that the internet and mobile communication can impose with respect to children. For this reason, the company in 2008 signed up to the National Code of Practice for Safe Use of Services and is also bound by the document European Framework for Safer Mobile Use by Younger Teenagers and Children signed by the Deutsche Telekom Group. T-Mobile is committed to increasing awareness with respect to safer use of mobile telephones and mobile internet and therefore became a partner of the project Zodpovedne.sk (“responsibly”).
“The age profile of our customer has significantly dropped over the past years. Mobile communication has become a regular part of life of children younger than 15 years and their safety in the virtual world is our priority. Our partnership with the project Zodpovedne.sk expresses our firm commitment. We will deliver on our promise to provide protection to children when using the mobile internet and mobile communications by implementing tangible and active steps,” explains Denisa Šulcová, Corporate Communications Senior Manager at T-Mobile Slovensko.
On the T-Mobile website you can find practical tips and advice on how to protect your children from threats in the virtual world, along with a link for posting your questions. The company has also launched a warning notification feature with respect to content inadequate for children activated when entering T-Mobile sites with specific content, along with the possibility of full access denial upon a parent’s request. T-Mobile will expand its child protection policy to also include internet parental lock, monitoring of a child’s SIM card operation, blocking of URL sites with illegal content and the opportunity to report such content.