Customer protection

Keeping children safe

For children and young people, mobile technology is as commonplace as electric light. While not everything that mobile technology provides is suitable for our younger customers, we want everyone to enjoy the benefits it offers. So we’re providing parents with tools and advice to help protect their children:

  • The phones we offer come with a content filter which blocks access to online content rated 18 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), including pornography, violent games, and chat and dating services. We can lift the bar for customers on request, but only if they can prove they’re over 18. Customers can send an email to to check a website’s classification or visit the BBFC website
  • Our free Vodafone Guardian app for Android has been downloaded over 90,000 times. It enables parents to control who the child can contact and be contacted by. It can block internet access or disable the camera, either full-time or just during set hours
  • Many young people access social media 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, we will remove it within four hours of it coming to our attention

Vodafone is on the Executive Board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and play an active role in setting the safety agenda. We also 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 message warning them that their activity is potentially illegal.

We continue to report any inappropriate or illegal mobile web pages to the Virtual Global Taskforce and work with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Help and advice

Help for parents

A report by Ofcom shows that 41 % of children aged 5 to 15 have a mobile phone of some kind. 31% of children aged 5 to 15 have a smartphone. The likelihood of smartphone ownership increases with age, with 65% of children aged 12 to 15 having one (Ofcom Parents and Children: Media Use and Attitudes Report, October 2014)

Our own research shows how embedded mobile technology is with 69% of under-18s saying they check their phones last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Parents and carers are understandably concerned about children’s safety online and some feel out of touch with the mobile technology young people are so familiar with. In fact, more than a third of parents admit that their children know more about the internet than they do (Ofcom).

The Vodafone Digital Parenting magazine is a free resource for parents, carers and teachers to help them navigate the internet, understand the benefits and keep their children safe in the digital world. Articles and how-to guides cover what to do about online abuse, managing mobile costs and how to get the best out of services such as instant messaging. It’s free to download and schools can order printed copies

Nuisance calls

Our Nuisance Caller Bureau is here to tackle the problem of annoying or distressing nuisance calls. If a customer tells us they are 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 Nuisance Caller Bureau by dialing 191 free from their Vodafone mobile or 0333 3040 191 from any other phone (standard call charges apply).

Vodafone Guardian, a free Android app, can also help prevent unwanted calls.

Driving and phones

Using a phone when driving increases the risk of having an accident – even if you’re using a hands-free kit.

Under UK driving legislation it is an offence to hold and use a mobile phone or similar device when controlling a vehicle. The only exception is when a driver has made a genuine emergency call to 999 where it would have been 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 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

Mobiles and driving don’t go together. We give the same advice to our customers that we give 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 take a call while driving, it must be hands-free. Even then, keep calls short and let the other person know you’re driving and you might need to end the conversation. Texting while driving is never an acceptable option.