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Parent Info internet safety service is 'trusted and valued' by schools, says impact report

Parent Info is the only free service in the UK which helps schools engage parents with expert internet safety advice, endorsed by the NCA-CEOP. And it’s getting excellent reviews from users.

Three years ago, in collaboration with the NCA-CEOP, we launched Parent Info, a unique digital service to help them support parents to keep children safer online. Today, nearly 5000 primary, secondary and SEN schools have embedded Parent Info in their websites. This week’s headlines show that there is a greater need than ever for evidence-based, pragmatic advice for parents - so the news that the Parent Info service really works feels particularly timely.

Researchers at the London Connected Learning Centre (CLC) asked Parent Info users what they thought - and the response was overwhelmingly positive:  the service is a ‘trusted and valued’ resource to which they return again and again. “No sooner does something become a hot topic in the media than Parent Info has posted some advice,” in the words of one respondent. Our big challenge now is to quickly scale it, so we can reach more families at a time when they really need it.

“Families were telling us that they didn't know where to get reliable, unsensational safety advice”

Parent Info came about because both Parent Zone - a social enterprise which helps families thrive online - and our partners NCA-CEOP - could see that there was a significant, parent-shaped hole in how schools were supported around internet safety.

Families were telling us that they didn’t know where to get reliable, unsensational safety advice - or understand which resources they could trust. And schools were really, really struggling to reach parents. Their in-school safety sessions for parents were often attended by only a handful of parents, and rarely included those they most wanted to reach.  

Schools were seeing real results using Parent Zone’s teaching resources, like our digital resilience curriculum - but to reinforce the messages they were giving in the classroom, they needed a whole-family solution.

What we and NCA-CEOP envisaged was a free, digital tool that would help schools speak to parents as people, wherever they were - at home, at work, or on a mobile device. It would host expert written advice on all the issues that are caused or amplified by the internet. It would be fresh and up-to-date, addressing hot topics that parents were hearing about on the news.  It would be measured, and evidence-based - a counterpoint to the clickbait headlines they were reading elsewhere.

“Nearly a fifth of UK schools have embedded Parent Info’s feed in their school sites”

Because the tool could be embedded in their own school website with just a line or two of code, schools could easily fill that parent-shaped gap. Crucially, parents would know they could trust the service because it came from two organisations that they already knew  - Parent Zone and NCA-CEOP.

Three years later, nearly a fifth of all UK schools have embedded Parent Info’s feed in their school sites, with many more directing parents to our free resources online. Much of the content on Parent Info is produced by leading experts and specialist organisations and carefully edited and curated for schools by Parent Zone and NCA-CEOP.  As well as important safety advice on old and new areas of concern, topics include sex, relationships and the internet, body image and peer pressure, and how parents can make evidence-based decisions about screen time.

And it’s working. A recent assessment by the London CLC found that users overwhelmingly feel a high level of satisfaction with the service. “Quick to get an article out with advice”; “If you think of something, it's there”; “It's in plain English and concise”; “Explains information in layperson’s terms…  accessible to parents” - the positive comments made to researchers are music to the ears of the Parent Info team, who work hard to make sure that it’s a living resource towards which participating schools regularly refer worried parents.

“We want to grow it into a familiar resource that libraries, local authorities and health care providers signpost to all parents

One of the key findings from the CLC researchers was that too few schools were using it - so our challenge now is to spread the word. We want to make sure that schools, local authorities, and relevant arms of government get to hear that Parent Info helps schools fulfil their statutory obligations with a breadth of expert content that would be impossible to curate or produce themselves.

And after that? We’ve set our sights beyond schools - we want to grow it into a familiar resource that libraries, local authorities and health care providers signpost to all parents. We know that Parent Info works, and too many parents are still struggling to help their children stay safe and well online. We’re determined to reach them all.

You can read the full Parent Info insight report here