The UK’s largest broadband companies have joined forces to help families stay safe online. BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are funding a new multi-million pound campaign aimed at parents, to raise awareness of how to tackle issues including cyber-bullying and access to adult content online. Importantly, it will encourage and support parents to talk to their children about how they can stay safe online.

The nationwide campaign, supported by high-profile advertising and marketing in 2014, will inform people about whole-home and device-level parental controls, helping them make the right choices for their household. The broadband companies are also committed to ensuring this is a sustained effort, for a minimum of three years, and will be forming a new joint venture to lead this campaign. Next year’s marketing expenditure alone will be in excess of £25 million.

New research conducted on behalf of the broadband companies to inform the development of the campaign found that, while 83% of parents have talked to their children about how to stay safe online, 81% are unsure where to go to get good advice. The campaign will guide parents to expert help and recommendations about how to stay safe online.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media together supply broadband to around 90% of households in the UK and are committed to ensuring their customers make an engaged choice about whether to use the parental controls they supply.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: “We are very pleased to be a part of this joint effort across the broadband industry to help families to get the best advice and support about online safety. We’ve been focused on the issue of online safety since we developed the world’s first Cleanfeed filter to block child abuse images and made the technology available free to other ISPs across the world a decade ago. BT will be launching a whole-home filter shortly to add to the tools we already make available for free to our customers, but awareness, expert advice and support are crucial in making sure that parents feel confident in using the protections that are offered by ISPs.”

Sky chief executive Jeremy Darroch said: “We are pleased to be supporting this industry-wide initiative to help families enjoy the best of the internet in a safe and secure environment. Protecting children from inappropriate content in the digital world is something Sky has led the way on. Sky Broadband Shield is now available to all of our five million broadband customers, offering family friendly filters that help parents choose which websites can be accessed in the home. This builds on the leadership position we have taken through our TV and public WiFi platforms."

TalkTalk chief executive Dido Harding said: “This is a major step forward for internet safety in the UK with the four leading internet providers coming together to lead the way. HomeSafe, our whole home parental controls service, has been in place for over two years now and we are proud that, now, as an industry, we can build on this progress and help parents be properly informed and equipped to help their children stay safe online.”

Virgin Media chief executive Tom Mockridge said: “Being online opens up huge opportunities for us all and we believe technology helps make good things happen. But there are also questions and challenges we need to tackle and, with significant support from across the broadband industry, this nationwide campaign will help ensure all our customers make the most of the parental controls, tools and information we provide to help them stay safe online.”