Keeping you safe online
Nearly one in four people now access the internet using a mobile device. Ofcom's Market Report (2012) shows that 39 % of UK adults now use a smartphone, 11 % have a tablet and 10% an e-reader.
For children and young people, this technology is routine. They use it for research, for homework and to chat with friends. But not everything on the web is suitable for young eyes.
Keeping children safe
- We have a default content control bar that blocks access to 18-rated content including pornography, violent games, chat and dating services, alcohol sales and promotions. We can lift the bar if a customer can prove they're over 18.
- You can download our free Android™ app, Vodafone Guardian. It gives control over who your child can contact, and who can contact them. It can disable the internet or camera full-time, during school hours or late at night. So far, almost 36,000 customers have downloaded Vodafone Guardian.
- Many young people access social networking sites from their mobiles. Before launching these services we make sure that content providers have put the right safeguards in place. If any unsuitable content (including images and music downloads) does appear on our mobile broadband service, we'll remove it within four hours of it coming to our attention.
We work closely with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which runs a hotline for reporting websites that contain illegal images of children. Anyone attempting to access a site identified as illegal by the IWF is denied access and will receive a warning message highlighting that their activity is illegal. We continue to report any inappropriate or illegal mobile web pages to the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) and we've worked with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to publicise specific requests for information when a child is at risk.
Help and advice
Help for parents
A report by Ofcom shows that 29 % of 12 to 15-year-olds and 9 % of 8 to 11-year-olds use a mobile to go online at home. Between 12 and 15, when asked what they'd miss most, children are more likely to say their phones (28%) or the internet (25%) than the television. (Ofcom Children's Media Literacy).
- Some parents feel out of touch with the technology that young people are so familiar with. Our Vodafone Parents Guide website helps our customers get to grip with the risks, opportunities and challenges of a digital world. It helps them understand how their children are using technology and how they can get more involved.
- Our Digital Parenting magazine is available online or as a hard copy. It takes parents through what to expect in terms of digital interaction at each stage of a child's development. Articles from expert contributors - including journalist and broadcaster, Professor Tanya Byron, and Carrie Longton, co-founder of Mumsnet - provide context and guidance.
- Building on our partnership with Mumsnet, we've also created an app that gives quick access to the popular Mumsnet Talk section of the website where parents can share advice with thousands of other parents across the UK.
- Vodafone Guardian is our free Android™ app. It gives parents and carers the ability to restrict internet and camera functions full-time or as appropriate, for example during school hours. It'll also facilitate barring certain phone numbers. So far, almost 36,000 customers have downloaded Vodafone Guardian.
Our Nuisance Caller Bureau tackles the problem of annoying or distressing nuisance calls. If a customer tells us they're getting nuisance calls, with their permission, we can supply the call information directly to the police. The Nuisance Caller Bureau advisers can also help customers take action to prevent problems in the future.
Customers can contact the Bureau on 08080 996740, through customer services on 191 from a Vodafone mobile, or by calling 0333 304 0191 from another phone.
Our free Android™ app, Vodafone Guardian, also helps prevent unwanted calls.
Mobiles and health
Mobile phones use radio frequency (RF) fields to send and receive calls and use the internet. These signals are transmitted to the nearest base station, which connects the mobile user to the telephone network. Many other everyday items also generate RF fields, including TVs, radios and baby monitors.
We know some people are concerned that RF could have an impact on health. But we make sure all our mobile phones and base stations are designed to operate within the guidelines set by the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). In fact, where there is public access, RF from our base stations is typically hundreds – or even thousands – of times lower than the guideline levels. And these already include a safety margin.
Over the past decade, more than 30 independent expert reviews have found no adverse health effects caused by mobile phones or radio base stations operating within international safety guidelines. A review by the Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) in 2012 states: "The report finds that although a substantial amount of research has been conducted, there is no convincing evidence that RF field exposure below internationally agreed guidelines causes health effects in adults or children."
In 2011, an expert group from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a specialist agency within the World Health Organization (WHO), completed a cancer hazard assessment for RF. It classified RF as 'Group 2B' – possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other substances in this category include bracken fern, pickled vegetables, coffee and talcum powder.
The assessment looked at whether exposure to RF has the potential to cause cancer under certain circumstances. It's not the role of IARC to quantify the chances of cancer developing when associated with normal usage or exposure. It's the responsibility of national governments and public agencies to determine whether there's a risk at current levels of exposure to RF, but the scientific consensus remains reassuring.
We want our customers to have clear information so they can make an informed choice. Anyone who's concerned about the health effects of mobile phones might find information from the
World Health Organisation (WHO) helpful. The WHO has offered guidance for people who want to limit their exposure to RF from mobile phones. Mobile phone users might choose to use a hands-free device or limit the number or length of calls. Using your phone in areas of good reception where there's a phone mast nearby also decreases exposure because the phone needs less power to transmit calls.
For more information about mobile phones, masts and health go to
Driving and phones
Using a phone while driving increases the risk of having an accident. We want all our customers - and our employees - to use mobiles responsibly and safely.
Under UK driving legislation it's an offence to hold and use a mobile phone or similar device when controlling a vehicle. The only exception is when a driver has to make a genuine emergency 999 call, and it would be unsafe to pull over and stop.
Although using a mobile hands-free while driving is legal, drivers can still be prosecuted for offences like dangerous driving if they fail to keep proper control of their vehicle.
Research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) shows that drivers who use a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone
- are much less aware of what's happening on the road around them
- fail to see road signs
- fail to maintain proper lane position and steady speed
- are more likely to 'tailgate' the vehicle in front
- react more slowly, take longer to brake and longer to stop
- are more likely to enter unsafe gaps in traffic
- feel more stressed and frustrated
Our advice to our customers (and to our employees):
- Pull over safely and switch off your engine whenever you need to make or take a call - or let the call go to voicemail.
- If you have to make or take calls while driving, it must be hands-free. And even then, keep calls short and let the other person know you're driving and might need to end the conversation.