The range of movies, series, apps and so on is huge. For parents, it is often difficult to keep track and, above all, to choose the right one for their children. Because the point is that media content should be age-appropriate, entertaining and, best of all, educational.
The media your child uses should be appropriate for his or her developmental level. Every child must first learn how media works and that it is not necessarily a representation of reality. Depending on their age and stage of development, children deal with media in different ways. Media suitable for children are adapted to this. That’s why you should make sure that there is an age recommendation and an explanation of the content in descriptions. From this you can deduce whether the offer might suit your child. It also helps to ask other parents for recommendations and to look at the media yourself beforehand – without the child.
In descriptions of media offerings, whether apps, movies or games, there are sometimes different age ratings. A distinction must be made between recommendations and general terms and conditions and so-called age ratings. Specifications and approvals usually have a legal background. For example, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stipulates that certain apps that were not developed for children and young people, such as WhatsApp and TikTok may be used from the age of 13 at the earliest.
In the description in the app stores, a different age statement often appears – namely the release by the Youth Media Protection. You probably know abbreviations like FSK or USK. The so-called self-controls of the film industry, games industry, etc. consider media according to the criteria of legal protection of minors and classify them accordingly. In each case, it is examined whether media content could be dangerous for the development and health of children and adolescents. It is about the depiction of violence, pornography and the like or whether children can be exposed to contact risks through the use of an offer. However, it is not tested whether a plot in a series and characters can already be understood by children of a certain age. Just because a Disney movie, for example, is rated “0 years old” doesn’t make it suitable for babies. He just doesn’t pose a risk. Age labels and technical protection measures are to be used to regulate access to the media for children. But this only works if you as parents also pay attention.
When it comes to selecting content, age recommendations made by (media) educational institutions, for example, will help you. We look to see whether the content corresponds to the lifeworld of the respective age group and whether it is understandable and appealing.
The same selection of media is not available for every age. Especially for children of daycare and elementary school age, the range is wide. Older children and adolescents often switch to adult offerings because there are few interesting series, films, etc. that are specially tailored to them. That’s where you should look closely and ask what your child is looking at or using.
We have some tips on where you can find good media outlets or get information:
Do not blindly rely on recommendations! Because not every child develops equally fast or slowly. That’s why it’s important to follow your child closely from the start when he or she uses media. This allows you to assess how it reacts to certain content and the way media is made. However, it is not only your decision, but also your child has certain ideas and wishes, what he would like to watch on TV, play on the tablet or listen to with the audio box.