Nominet teams up with Parent Zone, protecting children from financial risk online

21st February 2023

Samantha Curtis
Communications Lead

Today’s children have extraordinary financial agency. Digital developments provide opportunities, incentives and means to make, spend and lose money without the supervision of parents and carers. With an unprecedented surge in the cost of living and an imminent recession, this situation will only worsen existing vulnerabilities and, as a result, more children will experience financial risk and harm online.

To face this challenge head on, we will give Parent Zone £930,000 over the next three years to design and deliver a programme focussed on understanding and addressing Child Financial Harms.

The system-level response to online child sexual abuse and exploitation has been achieved through years of research, investment, and strategic coordination from the government and other stakeholders. Despite this, Child Financial Harms have been missing from this work until now. We’re proud to be funding this important work to address this growing problem – before it gets worse.

With our backing, Parent Zone aims to bridge the gaps between parents, policy and platforms, providing insights and knowledge in order to shape a better future for children. This includes innovating solutions to new and emerging categories of harm that affect children and young people. The programme, funded solely by us aims to bring together a unique combination of expertise and experience from different sectors to innovate new interventions for sustained impact.

Partners will include the PSHE Association, the national body for personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, UK Finance, Cifas, Dr David Zendle, an active researcher into the effects of both video games and gambling, and Reason Digital.

Vicki Shotbolt, founder and CEO, Parent Zone, commented: “The UK is facing an increasing number of children living in poverty. It’s likely that an unprecedented surge in the cost of living and an imminent recession will lead to more children experiencing risk online and possible harm. As children can buy, trade and earn online more easily, those risks and harms will increasingly include financial harms. The response from the system to CFH is still at a nascent stage compared to other areas of harm – but with Nominet’s funding, this can be changed.”

Mike Haley, Chief Executive, Cifas, added: “Collaboration is at the heart of what we do at Cifas, and we believe that the consortium provides us with an excellent opportunity to engage and educate young people about the serious consequences of fraud and financial crime. Cifas has played a key role in helping to raise awareness of financial harms among young people since 2018, and we look forward to working with others in the consortium to share our knowledge and build this important work going forward.”

Paul Fletcher, CEO, Nominet, said: “Our children are faced with increasingly sophisticated ways to encourage them to part with their money. But there is a darker dimension where platforms include financial mechanics that are now encouraging young people to engage in dangerous behaviour for reward, while also providing new avenues for abusers to engage, manipulate, and control children. As a society, we are currently ill-equipped to understand and respond to this issue. I’m proud that Nominet is able to give critical funds towards the development of solutions that will prevent and mitigate this rising category of harms.”