• Only 16% of parents know what their child is doing online with nearly three-fifths unaware of who they are talking to
  •  67% of kids do not think the internet is a safe place, but many continue to put themselves in potentially dangerous situations
  • The EE PhoneSmart Licence educates young people on how to stay safe and be kind online, and is available to everyone, not just EE customers, via  

Today, a survey of UK parents and their children aged between eight to 13, has highlighted that, although 67% of children do not think the internet is a safe place, many are still putting themselves in danger. A third of respondents (32%) still acknowledge that they have watched inappropriate content for their age, 37% play games where they do not know the other players they are connecting with and over a quarter (29%) have shared personal details with others.  

The survey, commissioned by EE, also revealed a third (33%) of parents are unaware that social media platforms have certain age limits, even though over three-quarters (78%) make a conscious effort to monitor their child’s online activity – from mobile phone usage to online gaming platforms and social media. Despite this, only 16% of parents know what their child is doing online, with nearly three-fifths (57%) unaware of who their child is talking to.

To help educate both children and their parents around online dangers, EE created PhoneSmart, the first phone licence, offering a free online programme that provides young people with the tools and confidence to use phone technology safely and responsibly. EE believes every child should be safe on their phone.

The survey clearly shows that being able to connect online is important to children. Even though 43% admit that there is peer pressure to go online, nearly half would experience feelings of exclusion (49%) and disappointment (47%) if they did not have access to the online world. As livestreaming continues to be one of the biggest trends on social media, a third (32%) of kids do not believe it to be dangerous, even though one in 10 (13%) are unaware that there are age restrictions in place.

In collaboration with experts from Internet Matters, and in consultation with Home-Start, ChildNet, Marie Collins Foundation and the Anti-Bullying Alliance, PhoneSmart teaches kids about key components of phone safety across four modules including online hate, digital wellbeing, staying safe online and digital & media literacy.

The free-to-access programme, which takes approximately one hour to complete and features a range of engaging storylines, interactive quizzes and activities, highlights the benefits and dangers of tech use, and provides a platform for children to understand how to report instances of online abuse, hate, discrimination, and cyberbullying.

Mat Sears, Corporate Affairs & Communications Director of BT and EE, said: “There needs to be more out there for children around online safety because parents don’t necessarily have all the tools or knowledge to teach children themselves. If your children understand the dangers of being online then that is the first step towards ensuring they have a healthy and safe relationship with both you and their online activity.

Our EE PhoneSmart Licence is designed to prepare children for the big wide world that a connected device can open up for them and give them the tools to stay safe and be kind online.”

Carolyn Bunting, CEO of Internet Matters, said: “Even though the internet is now second nature to us and how we live our everyday lives, there is still a great need for resources such as PhoneSmart to educate and engage young people so they are prepared to navigate the risks they might face in the digital world.”   

To find out more about the EE PhoneSmart Licence, visit


Notes to Editors

EE PhoneSmart Licence Modules

  • Online hate: Understanding inclusivity and identifying hate online
  • Digital wellbeing: Understanding the impact that screen time & tech on health
  • Staying Safe Online: Understanding the 4 Cs (content, contact, conduct and contract risks)
  • Digital & Media Literacy: Understanding fake news and social media as an information source

The research was commissioned by EE and carried out online by OnePoll. The survey was conducted between 8th February 2022 and 28th February 2022. The sample comprised 300 UK parents and children aged 8-13. OnePoll are members of ESOMAR and employ members of the MRS.

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 and launched the UK’s first 5G network in May 2019.

EE has received extensive independent recognition, including being named the UK’s no.1 5G network by RootMetrics® in 2020 and being named the UK's best network every year since 2014 for the following awards: The Mobile Choice 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 and 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. Follow us on:

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