• New research has revealed that over half of parents (57%) are unaware that children can donate to content creators online, while four fifths (80%) do not believe they have enough knowledge about the online streaming industry
  • There has been a surge and rise in the popularity of content creators and streamers, with some having millions of followers across their various platforms
  • A third (32%) of parents admit that their child is much more likely to watch an online content creator or streamer over other forms of entertainment
  • Virgin Media O2 has partnered with Internet Matters to give families simple and practical tips to keep their children safe online this Internet Safety Day (7 February)

7 February 2023, London: New research released today reveals parents’ concerns about their children’s online safety and spending habits, including donating to online streamers, buying downloadable content and much more.

The research, commissioned by Virgin Media O2 in support of Safer Internet Day, shows that over half of parents (57%) admit they are unaware that children can donate to content creators online.

However, the research shows that donating to streamers is amongst the most popular way for children to spend their money online, with almost a fifth (17%) of parents claiming their young ones have done so.

In recent years, influenced by the pandemic, there has been a rise in the popularity of content creators and streamers and is now one of the most popular entertainment industries in the world. Many youngsters and children now see this as potential career path.

Almost a fifth (18%) of all children who donate to streamers without asking their parents for prior permission do so because they are concerned their parents would say no. They also admit that if they had their own money, whether from pocket money or a part time job, they would be likely (78%) to spend at least part of it donating to their favourite streamers.

Despite a third (32%) of parents admitting that their child is much more likely to watch an online streamer than other forms of entertainment, four out of five parents (80%) do not believe they have enough knowledge about the online streaming industry.

However, this isn’t to say all parents are completely against their children donating to streamers. It emerged, if they were asked for permission, parents would allow their children to donate to streamers twice a month.

Virgin Media O2 and Internet Matters have created online safety tips for children and parents, designed to equip parents with the knowledge to protect their children’s safety in a digital world.

Top internet safety tips for children and parents: 

Utilise two factor authentication: Ensuring all devices and services have two-factor authentication enabled will prevent anyone else being able to log on to parents or children’s accounts as they will not have access to the passcode. Parents will also be notified of the attempted login. This can also help with payment security.

  • Set spending limits: It’s wise not to save card details on any account that a parent shares with their child. If possible, set-up a PIN for all remote purchases on devices.
  • Take advantage of privacy and security settings: Popular streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube have several tools built-in which parents can take advantage of to ensure their child is safe online. This includes the ability to enable a chat filter, preventing exposure to derogatory and discriminatory language, which stops children from viewing age-inappropriate streams and content, and the ability to block users from contacting children. Step by step instructions for all major consoles and platforms can be found on the Internet Matters website here.
  • Teach money : It’s important to recognise that children spending money online is not always a bad thing, and it can be a great way to teach them vital life skills like budgeting. While individual gaming transactions (e.g. buying an in-game item) can be relatively cheap (comparatively speaking), it’s very easy for these to become addictive, especially if children enjoy the a buzz from making several small purchases. Teaching them early on that they can spend money online but that it will have a real world impact – such as no money for sweets or other treats – will help them to understand the worth of their purchases while still encouraging them to be independent.
  • Join your children: There’s no better way to understand what children get up to online than by parents engaging and joining them in that activity. Whether that’s playing a videogame alongside them or sitting down to enjoy the latest content from their favourite creator, taking an interest in the things they are regularly engaging with will help parents recognise the appeal, make it easier to have important conversations when the time comes and ensure children feel more comfortable coming to their parents in the event of something going wrong.
  • Talk to them about their digital lives: Unlike the real world, it’s easy for the anonymity of being online, using a screen name or game-specific tag, to inspire negative behaviour. Parents should sit down with their children to help them understand what behaviour is and is not appropriate, what good manners look like in the online space (regardless of what they may see and hear from others) and teach their children to come to them as a first port of call if they ever need support.
  • Keep details private: While children might have fun playing with or speaking to someone they met online, it’s important that they do not share any private details, such as real names or addresses, as unless they’ve met this friend in person, they cannot be sure who they are speaking to. For those with especially young children, it would be beneficial to help them to understand what types of information should be kept private, including details of their school, images of themselves etc. so they know not to share these with anyone.

Dana Haidan, Chief Sustainability Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “Content creation and streaming is a hugely popular and fun industry that has emerged in recent years and it’s right that streamers are supported and able to make money, but for many parents this could all be completely alien to them. It is vital that parents are aware of the new things that their children are engaging with online.

“That’s why we’re proud to support Safer Internet Day by providing adults with tips and advice so they can have positive conversations with children and young people about staying safe and being responsible online.”

Carolyn Bunting MBE, CEO at Internet Matters, said: “Keeping children safe online is at the heart of what we do at Internet Matters, but with the digital landscape is always changing and there are constantly new things for parents to learn and be aware of. Through our ongoing partnership with Virgin Media O2, we’re hoping to not just raise awareness around the streamer economy but also equip parents with the tools to ensure their children are protected. Our top tips are all straightforward and practical pieces of advice that we hope parents will be able to easily digest take on board, even if they don’t consider themselves to be especially digitally-savvy.”

To find out more about Safer Internet Day and for a wealth of practical resources to help keep your child safe online, visit https://www.internetmatters.org/




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