Today is a special day for everyone at SafeToNet, but more importantly for children who for far too long have been at risk when using their mobile devices to explore and interact online.
We have become so frustrated with social networks, messaging apps and handset manufacturers. Put simply they have failed to keep children safe online despite having enormous power and the ability to make difference. We simply could not wait any longer for them to act and so we have set up shop in the high street to provide “safe out of the box” smartphones and tablets direct to parents and children. Something had to give.
We are delighted to announce that SafeToNet has acquired 77 mobile phone shops across Germany, which will be branded as SafeToNet Family Stores. These Family stores will sell contracts from Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica. Smartphones and tablets made by Samsung, Nokia, Apple and others will include our suite of sophisticated online safety software so that children are protected online from day one.
Millions of children around the world are harmed every day online and it’s time for a change. A change that does not require legislation. A change driven by simple market dynamics that we hope other mobile device retailers will copy around the world. With our SafeToNet Family Stores we will engage directly with parents about safeguarding their children online. We will de-mystify online safety and quash the theory put out by tech giants that online harm is a social problem that cannot be fixed by technology. Well it can and the Family Stores will prove it.
In our view, this is a critical and perhaps in hindsight an inevitable development in eradicating online harms such as bullying, abuse, aggression and sextortion. SafeToNet only exists to safeguard children online and it seems that the only way to do this effectively is to provide “safe out of the box” devices directly to families so that children are protected as soon as they switch on their device. The device is after all a common denominator to harm. No device, no harm. But the internet is a wonderful place and must remain accessible to children who should be able to explore online without fear of predation or threat. Making the device ‘safe out of the box’ does that.
The SafeToNet Family Stores will employ cyber-safety ‘gurus’ who will advise parents and children on how to keep safe online. They will provide guidance on harmful apps, how to avoid obvious pitfalls and moreover, help make the conversation between a parent and their child more comfortable when talking about sensitive online issues.
Keeping children safe online can be a challenging, time consuming and complex task and we understand that parents can’t be by their children’s side all the time to oversee everything they do. Even the most well-meaning of parents can find it difficult to find space in their busy lives for this important task and so they need technology like ours to help them educate and guide their children to become safe digital citizens.
For many children their first smartphone is a special “coming of age” occasion, an aspirational, transitional moment in maturity. In the SafeToNet Family Stores, they will not only experience the thrill of the moment, but also see first hand why their parents worry so much about their online safety.
Our safeguarding software runs on a child’s smart device and uses AI to detect and filter harmful content in real-time. It is in use by children in over 110 countries around the world, to detect bullying, abuse, aggression and sextortion. But this is the first time it has been directly included with the sale of any smart phone. It is truly a landmark moment and for us all at SafeToNet it is an incredible step forward. More importantly it’s a step change in online child safety.