Safe from the start – how we’re helping protect families online

18 May 2018

Safe from the start – how we’re helping to protect families online

At Virgin Media we’re passionate about bringing our customers great content at lightning speed so they can access the best of what the internet has to offer. We all know that for children, the internet provides a place to learn, develop and create, but also presents risks which have to be navigated.

Ofcom research shows that parents and guardians are increasingly concerned about the content their children encounter online and the potential for harm that age inappropriate content creates. It’s therefore unsurprising that Ofcom’s research also shows the number of parents using network-level filters as part of their strategy to protect their families online has increased for the third consecutive year. Government policy makers, like the House of Lords Communications Committee, have recently called for greater use of filters to protect children from harmful online content.

We want customers to make informed choices about how to protect their household online and provide advice and practical tools to help them do this. This is one of the reasons we are proud to be one of the founding members of Internet Matters. This not-for-profit organisation works to help keep children safe in the digital world by providing parents and guardians with the latest academic backed guidance on a range of child online safety topics, from cyberbullying to sexting.  And in 2014, we launched our free ‘Child Safe’ filter and encouraged our broadband customers to make a decision about whether or not to use it.

From this week, to help protect our customers while they make that choice, we are automatically turning on our Child Safe settings for all new broadband customers. This means that websites featuring violence, crime, hate, drugs, hacking, pornography, suicide and self-harm will be filtered, providing basic level protection for all new customers.

This change won’t affect the settings of any existing broadband customers, all of whom have already made a choice about whether they want filters on or not. Just as before, the account holder will be able to adjust the Child Safe settings easily – whether that’s turning them on or off, or dialling up or down the level of protection – at any time in their online account, My VM.

Child online safety is a constantly evolving challenge but we hope that in making this small change, we will simplify things for our customers and provide them with peace of mind while they consider whether filters are right for them.