News | 28 Jun 2024

New youth-led NSPCC group aims to give young people a voice

The Voice of Online Youth is a group of young people brought together by the NSPCC to help introduce children’s voices and experiences into the UK’s future conversations around online safety.

“Young people are more acutely aware of the pressing issues surrounding online safety, because they are the ones using social media apps the most.”

These are the words of 14-year-old Leo from London – one of 15 young people, aged 13-16, that make up the new NSPCC-led group.

Representing each of the four Home Nations, the Voice of Online Youth has been created to advise the charity, as well as politicians, regulators, parents and professionals, about the best way to protect children online.

Over a third of parents say choosing when to get their child a phone is one of the hardest decisions they make

The new research, into parents' views and concerns about getting their child's first phone, comes as Vodafone and the NSPCC launch their online resource to help parents make an informed decision.

This comes at a time when the issue of online safety is arguably attracting more attention than ever before. To help meet this growing need for information and support, Vodafone launched a new partnership with the NSPCC in 2023, building on more than a decade of work in the online safety space.

The Voice of Online Youth will play a key role in this partnership, with Vodafone working with the NSPCC to support the young people as they bring their experiences, ideas and learnings to the discussion. In turn, helping to contribute to the industry’s collective objectives around online safety.

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On Safer Internet Day 2024, Vodafone released a new film ‘The Rise of the Aggro-rithm’ to highlight the harmful AI algorithms targeting Britain’s teen and tween boys.

Prior to this, the two companies developed resources to help keep children safe online. The toolkit provides advice on everything from buying a child’s first phone to setting parental controls.

Nicki Lyons, Vodafone UK’s Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, is also part of the NSPCC Child Safety Online Taskforce, volunteering alongside 10 other senior executives to create new strategic partnerships, share insights, and mobilise others within their industry networks.

A key topic of recent conversations for the group has unsurprisingly been the Online Safety Act. While it became law in October 2023, work is still ongoing to implement the Act’s provisions and establish codes of practice for companies, as seen by Ofcom’s recent consultation on social media regulation.

“We’re both proud and excited to be supporting the Voice of Online Youth, building on a partnership with the NSPCC that centres on ensuring all our children can navigate the digital world safely and confidently.”

Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Vodafone UK

The young people involved in the Voice of Online Youth will meet both with representatives from Ofcom – which will enforce the Act – as well as politicians involved in key decisions.

Members will also receive training in campaigning, public speaking and teamwork, as the NSPCC looks to ensure children are given a voice in the matters that most affect them.

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