EE launches Set Up Safe service as 1 in 4 parents say their biggest worry as lockdown eases is keeping their children safe online

  • Research from EE reveals that as lockdown eases 41% of parents worry more about their child’s online safety when their child is not at home
  • Four in five parents say their child has spent more time online and on their phone in lockdown, but nearly a third of parents did not put any safety settings on their child’s device, either not knowing how or not believing they work
  • EE’s Set Up Safe service, developed alongside Internet Matters, provides parents a free step by step guide to set up their child’s device quickly and easily

EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator and part of BT Group, has launched ‘Set Up Safe’, a free new SMS service to help parents quickly and easily set up their child’s phone with safety features. The service is for all pay monthly customers and provides parents with guidelines for their children’s online activity. This includes settings such as adult content lock, spend caps, preventing charges to bill, and blocking calls and texts to premium numbers, so parents can feel confident their child is safely using their phone outside the home as lockdown eases. This is part of EE’s wider strategy to help parents keep their children safe online on its network.

This comes as an EE survey1 reveals that lockdown has increased parents’ anxiety about their children’s safety online, with a quarter of parents saying their child now uses their phone at least once every half an hour. And while 35% of parents with children aged 10-17 believe their child’s phone usage will only increase as lockdown eases, nearly a third (31%) did not put any safety settings in place before giving their child a device.2

Developed alongside Internet Matters, a not-for-profit helping keep families safe online, Set Up Safe offers parents a range of recommended age settings for their children’s mobile phone. By texting ‘Set Up Safe’ to 150 from an EE device, parents can easily select their preference from the options provided over text. EE will then automatically apply these to the device to safely set up the phone with restricted usage, simplifying the process for the 51% of parents who previously found the process of adding safety features complicated and time consuming.

With research showing that 29% of parents are concerned about their child’s data usage now lockdown is easing and nearly a third wanting to monitor in app spending, EE’s Set Up Safe tool can help parents feel confident that their child is setting out safely into the ‘new normal’ with the parental controls that best match their family’s needs.

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, said: "While the connected world provides huge benefits to young people, there are undoubtedly risks, and therefore technical tools such as EE's Set Up Safe go a long way to stop children seeing inappropriate content or having unwanted contact. 

“We would always encourage parents to apply age-appropriate safety settings to their child's devices as they help to create a digital environment where children can safely learn, create and socialise. But it's essential parents don't rely solely on technical tools as there is no substitute to having an open dialogue with your child from a very young age and staying in tune with their digital world. ”

Mat Sears, Consumer Corporate Affairs Director at EE said: “While technology is now playing a bigger role in family life than ever before, we understand that online safety is just one of many things parents will be thinking about as their children start to head out with lockdown restrictions easing. By providing this new guidance and support to parents, we’re hoping to ease some of these anxieties about online safety and lighten the load, by giving parents the confidence and understanding needed to help children enjoy a safe online experience.”

Step by step advice for Set Up Safe can be found on the EE website. Internet Matters also has a range of resources available on its website to help parents have conversations with their children on their online world.


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Notes to Editors:

More information can be found on the Set Up Safe website

  • The safety setting packages cover the following controls 
    • International roaming (outside the EU)
    • Content lock
    • Spending cap
    • International call blocking
    • Additional data purchases
    • Charges to bill (paying for additional services through a phone bill)
    • Blocking calls and texts to premium number
  • Set Up Safe is for Pay Monthly customers and the settings work most effectively when connected to the EE network. The content lock does not work over WiFi, so parents should ensure additional safety settings are enabled on their home broadband
  • Only the account holder can change or remove the safety settings, which can be done by speaking to our customer services team
  • Parents can still install individual safety settings if they’d prefer not to sign up to suggested packages
  • EE already works to educate customers who look after children on how to be tech savvy and keep them safe online through its Digital Skills for Tomorrow programme. The dedicated website helps parents teach their children digital skills including staying safe online.
  • Parental controls are useful tools to help minimise the risks children may face, but they do not guarantee safety online. It’s important to teach children skills like critical thinking and resilience, so they know what do if they encounter risk. For more information and conversation guides, please visit our partner Internet Matters

1Research conducted by EE between 10-13th July of 1,001 parents with under 18 children living at home where at least one child owns a mobile phone

2Research conducted by EE between 13th-16th March of a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults

About EE

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, offering superfast connections in more places than any other operator. EE brought the first 4G network to the UK in October 2012 with it continuing to be the UK’s biggest 4G network, and launched the UK’s first 5G network in May 2019.

EE has received extensive independent recognition, including being named the UK's best network every year since 2015 for all the following awards: The Mobile Choice Awards, The Mobile News Awards, The Mobile Industry Awards and by RootMetrics®.

As well as offering mobile services to consumers and small and medium businesses, EE also provides home and business broadband using both 4G and fixed line connections.

EE is committed to being number one for service in the industry. It has nearly 600 shops across the UK. EE remains the only mobile provider to answer 100% of customer calls in the UK and Ireland, and was recognised as the UK’s Best Large Contact Centre by the UK Customer Experience Awards 2018 and Welsh Contact Centre Awards 2019. EE was awarded The Sunday Times’ Best 100 Companies to Work for in 2018 and 2019, as well as being named Best Employer 2018 by the European Contact Centre & Customer Service awards.

EE is part of BT’s Consumer business unit which provides products and services to all of BT’s consumer customers in the UK.

About Internet Matters:

Internet Matters (​​) is a not-for-profit, industry-funded members body that helps families stay safe online, providing resources for parents, carers and educational professionals. It was established in 2014 by BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media and its members include BBC, Google, Samsung, Facebook, Huawei, ByteDance, Supercell and ESET. It is a member of the Executive Board of UKCIS (UK Council for Internet Safety) and was a member of The Royal Foundation Taskforce on the Prevention of Cyberbullying, founded by the Duke of Cambridge. It works with partners from across the industry, government and third sector to raise awareness and provide advice on the issues affecting children in the digital age, including cyberbullying, screen time, digital resilience, extreme content, privacy and exploitation.