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Review of the year

2016: the unstoppable rise of digital resilience

At Parent Zone, we work hard all year round to make the internet work for families.

Our mission is to improve outcomes for children of all ages, whether it’s through our work with corporate partners such as Google and Vodafone, our expanding relationship with a network of over 19,000 schools around the UK, or through our growing Family Champions scheme, encouraging and recognising high family friendly standards for products and services aimed at families.

Here are our highlights from what’s been an eventful and exciting 2016.


Hello…and goodbye

To start the year, we challenge the language of online safety and publish our list of banned words and phrases. So it’s goodbye to ‘digital detoxing’ and ‘digital natives’ and hello to a better approach to supporting families as they face the challenges of the online world.


Meet the Legends

The epic Google Internet Legends tour launches on Safer Internet Day.

We join forces with Google and 500+ primary school children to launch the Google Internet Legends Tour, which visits schools around the country to help pupils learn how to stay safe and thrive online.


Resilient Families

Parent Zone launches an online parenting course with support from The Home Office to help parents deal with the threat of radicalisation. It’s now part of the package of support available to Parent Zone Digital Safety members.


Young people, the internet and mental health

We publish our latest report, Rachel Rosen’s The Perfect Generation: Is the Internet Undermining Young People's Mental Health?Speakers at the sold out event at the British Medical Association include consultant adolescent psychiatrist Dr Richard Graham and broadcaster and psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos.


Family Champions launches

We introduce our Family Champions programme, to find products and services that meet our online safety standards.

Vicki wins Digital Safety entrepreneur of the year

Parent Zone CEO and executive board member of UKCCIS, Vicki Shotbolt, is recognised for her work in helping children feel safe and confident in the digital world. 

Parent Zone and Keeping Children Safe in Education

In response to the government’s forthcoming updated Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance (published in September), we develop our Digital Safeguarding training, covering everything that teachers need to know to meet their online safeguarding responsibilities. 

Introducing DigiDog!

A new team member joins the Parent Zone team. His mission? To engage younger pupils in online safety. Primary and prep schools that join our Digital Schools membership programme receive a DigiDog and related activities.


Sensible sharenting

Part of our work supporting families involves conducting research into areas affecting children and young people in the digital age.

Our ‘Sensible Sharenting’ report for Nominet reveals that parents share almost 1,500 images of their child online before their fifth birthday. The findings are widely reported in the media, as we pose the question: ‘What are the effects of a childhood shared online?’

Kids go wild for Pokémon Go

The beginning of the summer holiday sees hoards of young people roaming through parks and sites of national interest to hunt for rare and wild Pokémon. Judging by the number of visitors to our website, our Parents’ Guide to this augmented reality game proved to be one of our most popular yet.


Internet Legends returns

The Google Internet Legends assemblies’ tour sets off for another school year, helping hundreds more primary school children be safe and epic online.

Google Expeditions

We’re also thrilled to be working with Google on its in-school virtual reality experience, Google Expeditions, which sees pupils up and down the UK donning Google Cardboard headsets to swim with sharks, take trips to the moon and more.

Vicki submits evidence to the House of Lords

Parent Zone’s CEO Vicki Shotbolt addresses a House of Lords Communication Committee investigating the dangers posed to children by the internet. Vicki calls for more support for parents, as well as legislation that ensures children enjoy the same protection online as they do offline.

Parent Info celebrates its first birthday

Our free advice and information news feed for parents is carried by schools on their websites. This month, Parent Info celebrates its first birthday and to mark the occasion, we publish a list of the top 5 articles from the service’s first year.


Underage gambling: a growing concern

We report on how gambling through in-app purchases is a growing problem among young people. Among the areas raising concern in relation to teenagers is the use of 'skins' to gamble on eSports, and the number of teens playing online games of chance.

900,000+ Digital Parenting magazines and counting

Once again we partner with Vodafone to produce the acclaimed Digital Parenting magazine. Distributed by schools, police forces, social workers and other organisations working with families and young people, at the time of writing we’ve sent out over 900,000 copies of the online safety guide for parents.


Parent Zone contributes to the official sexting guidance for schools and colleges

The guidance, published this month, is prepared by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety Education Board, which our deputy CEO Sophie Linington sits on.

Protecting our children from porn

A last-minute amendment in The Digital Economy Bill ensures that ISPs will be accountable for ensuring that porn sites operate age verification to make it more difficult for under 18s to view porn online. It’s something that we’ve been campaigning for since 2012 so we did a happy dance when the news was announced.

Our Digital Schools Programme introduces #Digiknow

We launch a new resource for secondary and senior schools - a quiz designed to test and develop pupils' critical thinking skills. The quiz is available to members of our Digital Schools Programme, which has been designed to help schools maximise online opportunities for pupils while minimising risks to their safety and wellbeing.


The changing face of the British Christmas

As the end of an eventful year approaches, we look at how the internet has changed how we shop, celebrate and communicate over the festive season.


2017: the year of digital resilience

Next year looks like it’s going to be just as exciting as 2016.

At Parent Zone, we believe the conversation around protecting children and young people online will finally move on from talking about controls, blocking and filters and promote digital resilience instead.

We were the first organisation to highlight this important area with our 2014 report, Building Children’s Online Resilience, conducted with the Oxford Internet Institute and Virgin Media.

Our CEO Vicki is now co-chairing the UKCCIS working group into digital resilience. We look forward to a more positive role for parents in helping children and young people become resilient and confident internet users. Watch this space!