Computer games are a topic in many families and often a cause for conflict. On Elternguide.online there are lots of articles where you can get suggestions for dealing with games in the family. A small selection:
Children and young people love to play games – including computer and online games. Media educator Fabian Wörz explains in a video what needs to be considered.
Here you will find collected tips for dealing with computer games in your family. The article is available for reading and as an audio file.
Which game is suitable for my child? In this article, you will learn the background of age restrictions and what else you should look for when choosing games.
Computer games are a very communicative activity because gamers often meet online to play. Of course, this also entails risks. You can read more about it in this article.
When not playing via cell phone or computer, a game console comes into play. It’s at the top of many wish lists. Read our article on game consoles here.
More and more people are becoming aware that computer games have many positive effects. You can read more about this in our article.
This is only a small selection of contributions to the topic. On our site you will also find descriptions of the most popular computer and mobile games among children and young people, such as Minecraft, Brawl Stars and Fortnite, explanations of gaming platforms such as Twitch and Steam, articles on dangers such as violence in games, extremist speeches on gaming forums or computer game addiction and much more.
Accounts on Instagram, TikTok or Amazon are secured with passwords. For example, strangers should not be able to access sensitive data such as address, account number, etc., or post or order things in the name of others. However, some passwords are so simple that they can be easily “cracked” by criminals with technical help. Children should learn what strong passwords look like as soon as they use digital devices or go online.
A secure password has at least 12 characters and consists of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid personal passwords like your children’s birthdates, because they are easy to figure out with a little research. Sequences of numbers (for example, “12345”), alphabetical sequences of letters (such as “abcdefg”), or a sequence of adjacent keys on the keyboard (such as “qwertz”) are also not safe. Words that are not in any dictionary and have nothing to do with you or the service you are trying to sign up for are best.
Creating a secure password and remembering it in the long run is not that easy. A mnemonic helps with this. Think of a sentence that you can easily remember, for example “Elternguide.online informs and supports parents also in 2023!”. If you take out only the first letters, numbers and special characters of the sentence, the following password will be created: “Eoi+uEaiJ2023!” This string is safe and you will not forget it easily. If you can’t think of a phrase of your own, you can think of a proverb, for example, “When two quarrel, the third rejoices!” Or you can use the password generator from Data-Kids, which will help you and your child create such secure passwords!
A password should be changed regularly. It is recommended to use a separate password for each of the different platforms, as data leaks and theft of user data can always occur. Hackers could access all accounts if the same password was always used.
If you can’t or don’t want to remember so many different passwords, it’s best to use a password manager. This allows passwords to be managed and stored in encrypted form. You will then need to remember only one password for the manager. With the password key machine , parents and children can come up with password keys that are hard to forget.
You can read and view more about secure topics on the website of the German Federal Office for Information Security.
Children and young people do not always turn to their parents with their problems. Problems at school, with peers or themselves, are rather discussed among friends. They look for answers, like-minded people on the Internet or keep it to themselves. But what happens when the problems become bigger and the people concerned can no longer find a way out? If you as a parent notice that your child is not doing well? The Internet is not always a good source of advice on problems, but there are definitely safe and helpful digital counseling services for young people and parents.
Online counseling services offer support for problems and concerns such as bullying, eating disorders, or depression. Some services are aimed specifically at children and young people. Those affected can seek help on their own and get advice on various topics anonymously and free of charge via a website or by telephone.
In addition to individual counselling, many of the counselling services on the net offer the possibility to discuss problems in a group or a forum. For individual counselling, those affected write their problems directly to psychologically trained counsellors. In such an exchange, young people receive immediate help and support. Depending on the problem and the need, this exchange can vary in length. Group offers usually take place in a rhythm, e.g. weekly. Regular participation is often helpful, but not absolutely necessary. Sometimes, like-minded people can be found in such chats who are also there for each other outside of the meetings. Within forums, affected persons exchange information with peers. Peers are people of the same age. They have been trained to help with problems in the chat. In addition, they always have the possibility of accessing the help of adult professionals. The exchange in the forums is also moderated to avoid insults, triggers or the disclosure of data.
The counselling and support services differ in terms of which age group is addressed, which topics are the focus and how counselling can be accessed. Some services are also aimed at parents seeking help:
Help offers on the net can be accepted easily and free of charge. They are more accessible to young people than, for example, counselling centres. The counsellors are trained and those affected remain anonymous. Making contact can be a first and right step. Especially in case of problems at school, at home or with oneself, it can help to exchange ideas with peers or to get the advice of an objective person. However, online counselling is no substitute for therapy! In case of suicidal thoughts or mental disorders, it is imperative to seek the advice of another therapeutic professional and to seek ongoing therapy. Other professionals should also be sought for legal or medical issues.
Tell your child that these services exist. Explain that compared to groups in open forums or on social media, they are safer because trained staff are behind them. Also beware of so-called psycho apps. These are not always helpful and can even be dangerous. Show your child which services it can use without hesitation when it has problems and worries.
Above all, make it clear that he or she can count on your help if problems arise. Do not put pressure on your child and ask without bias if you feel he/she has problems. A problem that seems small to you may feel much worse to your child. You can also get counselling yourself or together online.
Children and young people like to play with each other and argue in the process – and that is quite normal. These conflicts do not stop at virtual space. Sometimes arguments degenerate into name-calling, hate speech or cyberbullying. What you can do as a parent on the topic of hate among gamers, we explain in this article.
Games are supposed to be fun. Gamers compete against each other in many online games. As in other competitions, there is always one team that wins and at least one that loses. Losing often triggers frustration and anger is taken out on each other. In the process, there are also times when insults are used.
In the process, the difference between fun and seriousness is not always clearly discernible. Rough language, so-called trashtalk, is the order of the day in the gaming scene. However, this gaming language is usually not taken as a personal insult, but determines the tone of conversation. In some conflicts, however, players cross red lines and utter racist or sexist insults, for example. This is called hate speech and is a form of digital violence. This is about the targeted discrimination of people on the net based on one of their characteristics such as gender, skin color, origin or sexual orientation.
One particular feature fosters hatred among gamers: In online spaces, we do not face each other personally. Therefore, it is not easy to recognize how statements from the other person are meant and how one’s own statements are received. Also, things are said thoughtlessly that one would not say to others’ faces. Real people hide behind nicknames, but the anonymity of the Internet sometimes makes you forget that.
Accompany your child in the event of cyberbullying. When children argue, they are often sad afterwards and feel misunderstood. It doesn’t matter whether the conflict takes place online or in real life. After all, the emotions involved are always real. If your child is sad and opens up to you, take your child’s feelings seriously. Answers like “But it’s just a game!” or “Don’t play it if you’re always going to be mad afterwards.” are not conducive to this. Show understanding and offer your child support: “I’m here for you. Let’s figure out what to do together”. If these events happen again, talk to your child about what he or she can change. However, wait until the anger has passed for the moment.
Ask if your child feels offended by the culture of communication among gamers themselves. Make your child strong against haters and trolls and show them how to fight back online. Educate your child about how to deal with digital violence and point them to help sites like juuuport or Hate Aid. If your child encounters hate and incitement in games, report the account together. It is important for the community of the game that harmful players are reported. Thus, the developer studios can take action and block accounts or exclude them from participating in the chat. Find out what games your child plays and check if there is an option to child-proof the game. For example, individual players can be muted so that your child is no longer a repeated target of nasty hostility.
If you observe your child using violent language yourself, talk to your child in a quiet moment about communication in Games. Clarify which insults are discriminatory and make it clear where you stand on them. Be a role model in your own expression, whether online or offline, and show understanding and interest in your child’s play worlds.
A well-stocked store that offers many useful applications for Apple products: the Apple App Store. It entices users with numerous apps, games, and media content from a seemingly endless selection. Find out what the Apple App Store is all about and how you can set it up to be childproof in this article.
The Apple App Store is a digital platform where users can download and install iOS apps for their Apple devices such as iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. It was introduced by Apple in 2008 and has had a significant impact on the app development industry and mobile ecosystem ever since.
From games and entertainment apps to useful tools and productivity apps, the App Store offers a wide range. Users can search for apps, read ratings and reviews, buy apps or download them for free, and sign up for subscriptions. Specifically, there are ‘Today’ (apps and news selected by Apple), ‘Games’ (different types of games), ‘Apps’ (apps by category), ‘Arcade’ (exclusive games within the Apple Arcade subscription) and the general ‘Search’ categories for this on the home screen. When browsing, however, advertised apps are preferred. This means that even when searching for a specific app, the app you are looking for will first appear under a promotional post.
For developers, the App Store provides a platform to market. To do this, the apps must meet certain Apple guidelines and requirements regarding privacy, security, and features that enhance user experience. Each app is pre-screened for this by Apple before release. Some female developers criticize the high fees Apple charges for selling apps in the Apple App Store, while others have concerns about the review and approval processes.
Games, coloring and drawing apps, music and creative apps, entertainment apps and learning apps – the Apple App Store offers children and young people numerous options. Many of the apps are interactive, entertaining and promote cognitive development, language development or fine motor skills.
There is a separate category in the Apple App Store for children up to the age of twelve: it is called ‘Kids’. The apps there are usually kid-friendly and educational. However, the category is not intuitive to find. To do this, you must enter ‘children’ in the search box. This is the only way to land in the children’s section with subcategories.
The age ratings are set by Apple itself based on the content of the app and the target audience. Factors such as violence, sexual content, drug use, or gambling are considered. Each app is then given an age rating of 4+, 9+, 12+, 17+ or no clearance. Apple uses its own guidelines and standards for this.
Strict guidelines for all apps for children should ensure their safety: child-friendly content. No use of tracking technologies. No advertising. No in-app purchases without parental permission. Easy navigation and operation. No links to outside websites or social media without parent permission. Educational Benefits.
You can also adjust the settings on their Apple devices to restrict access to certain apps or content and ensure that your child can only access kid-friendly apps.
Tips on how to safely set up your child’s smartphone are available in this article.
Friendships in your child’s life are important and become closer over time. At some point, falling in love comes along and the first relationships are formed. We explain what the most popular apps and communication tools for young people involve for flirting and dating online.
To keep in touch with their peers, many young people primarily use familiar platforms such as WhatsApp , Instagram or Snapchat . Outside of school and sports clubs, they are used to get to know each other better, to follow each other quite inconspicuously, or to feel closer to each other.
But dating apps are also gradually becoming interesting for young people – around the age of 15. However, there are only a few contact portals that are aimed at or suitable for young people, as it is mainly people from their late 20s who go looking for a partner here. Most communities also do not allow participation until the age of 18. Only a few flirting sites offer their services to younger teenagers: Yubo is aimed at young people aged 12 to 17. Although the service is not officially a dating app, it is also used for that purpose and works very similarly to Tinder. MyLOL is aimed at 13- to 19-year-olds and markets itself as a teen dating app, mind you without any age verification. The dating app Skout is now available for ages 17 and up.
Adult dating apps likeTinder, Bumble,Lovoo ,and queer-friendly offerings likeOKCupid . are also exciting for young people because of their playful design: You are shown a picture of another person and decide whether you find them attractive by swiping left or right. Out of curiosity alone, young people are also on the platforms for adults, because there is no age control for these apps.
Especially when flirting over the Internet, you have to be careful because you can’t see your counterpart. You don’t know whether what a person writes about himself or herself is true and what interests he or she is pursuing.Anyone can register with a portal or social media platform – whether they are of age or not. When you make contact with strangers, there is a risk of theCybergrooming, i.e., initiating sexual relations with minors.
When adolescents begin to fall in love and (want to) have their first relationships, there is also the risk ofSextingandCyberbullying to Sextortion: Some young people are easily persuaded to send revealing pictures of themselves without realizing the consequences and dangers.The swipe function of some dating apps also supports superficial judgments of others based solely on their appearance. This increases the risk of Insults and Hate Speech.
Inform yourself about communication risks on the Internet and educate your child in this regard. Even if your child knows the person they are chatting with, they should be careful about what they write and what photos they send of themselves. Even with offerings like Snapchat where the photos delete themselves automatically, but they can still be saved forever via screenshot. Talk to your child about the fact that content on the Internet can also be disseminated quickly and unintentionally. Encourage your child to listen to his or her gut and not be pushed into anything.
No matter what app your child uses for communication, make sure to instruct them on privacy settings. It’s best to go through these together and consider which settings make sense, such as a profile set to private on Instagram . Make sure to turn off the location function of the apps. This way you can avoid strangers (or unwanted) tracking your child.
Flirting and dating are important for your child. However, make your child aware not to meet complete strangers. And certainly not on their own. At least one phone call should have already taken place. If you are completely unsure, start the first call with a suppressed phone number.
When it comes to a meeting, an adult person should always know about it. This person can, for example, come to the meeting and stay in the background. The meeting place should always be a public place where there are many other people. In addition, the meeting should take place during the day when it is still light outside.
Stay in regular communication with your child about which portals and apps your child is using, what he or she is doing there, or with whom he or she is communicating. However, please continue to respect your child’s right to privacy. Don’t control it, but agree together on rules for dealing with it.
And if your child doesn’t want to talk to you about such things, he or she can get very good information on the subject at ins-netz-gehen.de orhandysektor.de.
The smartphone vibrates in your pocket. When you look at it, there are 15 new messages in the family group and a voice message from your best friend waiting for your reply. This can be annoying or even put pressure on you. Being constantly connected and reachable can trigger digital stress – even among young people. But how does that happen?
Digital stress is mainly related to constant accessibility, distraction and control. Most young people – but also many adults – assume that they will respond to messages on WhatsApp , Instagram and Co within a few minutes or have to respond. This expectation of always having to be available can lead to stress on both sides, e.g. if other important tasks such as homework are neglected in the process.
Many young people take their smartphone to bed with them. The first thing many young people do when they wake up in the morning is automatically reach for their smartphone. This also happens at other times of the day – often quite unconsciously as a distraction or out of boredom. For example, many people use their social media feed as a bedtime story before going to sleep, but the more screen time during the day, the more trouble you can have falling asleep or sleeping through it.
For children and young people, it’s part of the job to constantly communicate and stay in touch with their friends via messenger apps, social media or online games. However, this is also associated with social pressure . Social media apps are made to get as much user attention as possible, and not all content does teens good. The own self-expression, the comparison with idols or friends can be exhausting. Online games also want to keep players engaged with reward systems and performance principles.
Those who do not participate in group chats, for example, fear being excluded from the schoolyard as well. That’s why it’s especially hard for younger teenagers to escape the flood of news. This phenomenon has a name: FOMO stands for “Fear of missing out” and describes the fear of missing out or not noticing something.
At the same time, many young people are annoyed that their friends are constantly looking at their cell phones when they are out together. On the other hand, they themselves find it difficult to take their eyes off their cell phones and constantly check their smartphones for incoming messages. When a red number appears on the app icon on the display, it makes you excited and curious. It is a small feeling of happiness that wants to be repeated as often as possible.
Older teenagers are often already aware of the problem and try to find their own solutions to it. They are more likely to be able to separate themselves from their own circle of friends and to pursue their own needs with self-confidence. Whether on vacation, while learning, or permanently – under JOMO (“Joy of missing out”), for example, social media users share their joy at being able to switch off and put digital media aside for a while.
In the age of smartphones, mobile Internet and messengers, almost everyone can relate to the term digital stress. Many children and young people are bothered by the fact that their parents also look at their smartphones too often. You are a role model for your child for conscious media use. If you yourself feel stressed by your smartphone, talk openly about it with your child. This way, it feels understood when it can’t put the smartphone down.
Together with the whole family, find strategies to reduce stress. Set rules together to reduce time on the cell phone. This can be, for example, a ban on cell phones during meals together or in the bedroom. Of course, the adults must also abide by these rules!
Or you can arrange a “digital diet” in which all family members abstain completely from digital media and the Internet for a while. If you do something nice together as a family instead, the renunciation may not be quite so hard!
Apps for regulating media time or setting options such as screen time can help to use media more consciously . A comprehensive list on how to avoid digital stress is provided by the saferinternet.at site.
By the end of elementary school, many children get their own smartphone. With it, they can do different things and have access to the Internet. In addition to many great opportunities, however, it also exposes children to risks. It is especially important that you talk to your child about possible dangers and make safety settings on the new cell phone together.
Without your child realizing it, he or she is leaving data trails by using a messenger and other apps, as well as by surfing the web. Explain to your child the various smartphone functions and how to set them sensibly: WLAN, Bluetooth and location should remain switched off by default and only be activated when absolutely necessary. For example, GPS is necessary if your child is looking for directions to a specific location using a map app. Check the app permissions in the settings together with your child. For example, you can avoid apps accessing the camera without reason or sharing data with other devices and networks. Educate your child about online scams, such as spam emails or phishing. A virus protection app helps against unwanted viruses. This way, your child can protect themselves from dangers such as data theft, subscription traps or fake offers.
For a safe stay on the net, it is important to use codes and passwords. Your child’s cell phone should only be used after entering a code (PIN, swipe code or similar) so that no strangers can access the data. Set up secure password protection with your child. This also applies to registration with social media services and apps. Secure passwords consist of at least twelve characters and contain special characters and numbers in addition to letters. Depending on the device, a fingerprint of the child can also be used for unlocking (e.g. Touch ID on iOS). Tips for creating secure passwords are available – e.g. at Handysektor. For younger children, it is recommended that at least one parent also knows the screen lock combination and password.
On every smartphone, security and parental control settings can also be made in the settings. Detailed information on this can be found, among other things, in the article on technical youth media protection.
On Android, you can block the installation of apps in the Play Store or set a password for installation or in-app purchases. To do this, activate the parental control settings. You can choose which apps your child can install without a password.
In addition, for Android devices, it is recommended to install a parental control app such as Salfeld Parental Control or download a security app. Limiting screen time helps to control the duration of app use and ensure balanced media consumption. With the Kids Place app, you can, for example, set a time limit on screen time, only allow the use of certain apps, or block unsuitable websites. The Google Family Link app also offers some ways to regulate your child’s cell phone use.
iOS devices offer even more options in their own device settings. Under Screen Time you have the option to set restrictions and assign a separate code for them. You can then, for example, allow or block the use of certain apps and restrict in-app purchases with a password. Movies, music, apps and TV shows with a higher age rating can also be blocked automatically. iOS can automatically filter and hide web content in Safari and apps.
To avoid cost traps, a rate plan with targeted, limited data volume can be useful. Thus, your child has only a limited scope to spend time on the Internet.
Make sure to set certain settings on social media apps as well and use Instagram safely, for example. Here you can specifically regulate the visibility of your child’s profile and the basic contact options. Some platforms even offer a child-friendly alternative mode – for example, the accompanied mode at TikTok.
For more information on safe smartphone settings, it’s worth visiting medien-kindersicher.de. Here are helpful, tech protection solutions for all of your child’s devices, services and apps.
Smartphones come with some features to make chatting, surfing the web and using apps safer for your child. Nevertheless, these settings on the device or even parental control apps do not replace the supervision of you as a parent. Your child should always understand why certain websites or apps should be blocked or why GPS tracking should remain disabled. Also, always base your control and safety on your child’s age and development. Especially with teens, don’t intrude too much on your child’s privacy. However, always try to stay in conversation with your child and be there as a point of contact for questions or uncertainties.
“If you think positively, your life will change for the better!”. Happiness and success as if by magic – that’s what the social media trend “Lucky Girl Syndrome” is all about.
Under the hashtag #luckygirlsyndrome, millions of videos of young women can be found on TikTok, Instagram and the like. They usually look very good, smile into the camera and promise their followers success through beliefs and mantras such as “I am happy” or “Things are going well for me”. The message is: good things will happen to those who expect good things. This is called the “Law of Assumption.” In some videos, female influencers talk about all the things they’ve been able to achieve thanks to their positive outlook on life: Gambling winnings, dream jobs or the perfect apartment. They challenge their followers to talk themselves into happiness and share the resulting successes with the community. The trend is mainly common among female TikTokers. The hashtag #luckyboysyndrome occurs significantly less.
Who am I? How do I want to become? What do I want to achieve? Children and young people are in the middle of their personal development. On the road to adulthood, adolescents encounter many hurdles and must learn to deal with setbacks. Conquering a crush, getting good grades at school, shining at a dance recital – not everything they set out to do succeeds. This can make you dissatisfied and frustrated. The social media trend “Lucky Girl Syndrome” promises quick happiness and thus exactly meets the interest and longing of some young people, especially girls. They look to their idols for guidance and emulate influencers on social media. Challenges are fun for young users, and they interact with their circle of friends and role models.
Lucky Girl Syndrome” seems harmless, but it can become problematic for users. The trend lures with false promises. It doesn’t hurt to think positively. But goals cannot be achieved with thoughts alone. Those who want to attract happiness solely with the help of loudly spoken sentences and the inner attitude will soon be disappointed. Because only those who also become active and change their own behavior can shape their lives positively.
What is also problematic about the trend is that negative feelings have no place. But those who constantly suppress grief, fear or anger risk their mental health in the long run. What is also completely disregarded is the fact that not everything in life can go well and not everything can be positively influenced. What is also important to remember is that not all people have the same opportunities. Physical characteristics such as appearance, gender, and health and privileges such as social background and finances affect the achievement of personal goals.
Stay open and interested in your child’s social media use. A good basis for discussion is essential for a joint exchange on value issues. Talk to your child about his or her role models on TikTok and Cound with as little bias as possible, and ask what fascinates your child about them. Point out that how influencers are portrayed on social media may differ from how they are portrayed in private. Nobody is lucky all the time. Make it clear to your child: not everything always has to go well in life. Negative feelings are part of it and may be lived through to an appropriate degree. A positive outlook on life is good, but action must follow. Reinforce to your child that he or she is fine the way he or she is. Encourage his self-awareness and support him in critically reflecting on the self-optimization presented by some influencers on social media.
“I have nude photos of you. If you don’t want me to send them to your whole class, transfer €500 to this account by tomorrow!” When supposedly private recordings or information are suddenly used to blackmail someone, we talk about sextortion. And this can affect virtually all Internet users.
Sextortion is made up of “sex” and the English “extortion”, meaning blackmail. The term describes an Internet phenomenon in which users are blackmailed with nude pictures or videos. In doing so, the blackmailers proceed in two different ways:
The blackmailers in sextortion cases work with their victims’ sense of shame. The people concerned want to avoid at all costs that their most intimate pictures are shared uncontrolled online with a huge audience. Many often do not resist blackmail out of fear and shame. At the same time sextortion can affect everyone.
Because the perpetrators seek contact via common messengers and social media platforms, where there is generally a lot of communication between them, there is often no suspicion when contact is first made. Blackmailers often take a long time to gain the trust of their victims.
Mostly young men are the target of sextortion – but there are also increasing cases of women being blackmailed. Sometimes even children are threatened.
In some cases, it is not money that is demanded, but further sexual acts – then the crime is not only extortion, but also sexual assault or even rape.
The best precaution against cybercrime is always: knowledge and caution. Inform yourself about communication risks on the Internet and educate your child in this regard. Stay in conversation with your child about their online actions and encourage them to be vigilant. Create a trusting basis for conversation and encourage your child to confide in you or an adult caregiver if he or she is being harassed. Make it clear to him that it is not your child who has done something wrong, but the perpetrator. Discuss the following rules with your child as needed:
If it is already too late, you can take action: Sextortion is a criminal offense and should be reported to the police. The more people who report such cases and the more screenshots there are to document the extortion, the greater the chance that perpetrators will be caught. The people affected are not to blame. But if they do not defend themselves out of fear and shame, they only protect the perpetrators! Seek help and advice, for example here:
For children and teenagers at…
For parents at…
Stickers have long been indispensable in messenger apps like WhatsApp, Telegram and others. The small, colorful pictures are often funny or cute and offer a fun and creative way to express emotions and liven up conversations. We explain what stickers are useful for and when their use can also become exhausting.
Unlike traditional emojis, stickers are often hand-drawn or digitally created graphics. The small images and animations offer an easy and quick way to convey a message, express your mood or bring fun into a conversation. Stickers can also be used to overcome language barriers. Since images are a universal language, they can be useful in multicultural communication situations.
There are stickers for almost every situation, from funny memes and cute animals to political messages and cultural references. With various apps like Sticker Maker or Sticker Studio, you can quickly and easily create your own stickers that are not available in any other app.
For children and teenagers, sending and receiving the colorful images provides entertainment and fun. It is typical for young people in particular to communicate with images. Image communication partially replaces the written word. Children also like to make jokes, laugh and have fun. In stickers they can easily combine all this. Especially creating your own stickers provides a lot of creativity and individuality, which is especially popular among young people.
Find out about the apps your child uses and see what stickers are available there. There are also special parental control apps that can restrict access to certain apps or features.
Remember that social contacts become increasingly important for your child as he or she reaches puberty, and digital communication is just as much a part of this as conversations in the playground. Educate your child about not spreading stickers that may offend or harass others. Discuss rules for dealing with stickers – especially in class and group chats. Getting others’ permission before sharing stickers can help reduce problems. Also educate your child about what to do if he or she feels uncomfortable or harassed and always be approachable.
Talk to other parents and teachers about how stickers are handled in group chats. This way you can support each other and exchange ideas.
Feel free to create a fun sticker together with your child sometime. This encourages creativity and engagement with images and text.
The smartphone is only a few years old and already broken. But does that mean it has to be replaced with a brand new device? What has long been established in the textile industry is also becoming increasingly popular for electronics: buying technical equipment second-hand. This is easy on both the wallet and the environment. We shed light on the background and present selected stores.
The manufacture of smartphones, tablets and the like requires many valuable resources such as plastics, metals and rare earths. Some raw materials are mined in countries like Congo, supporting armed conflicts and child labor. During production, any amount ofCO2 escapes into the atmosphere. If the device is broken and ends up in the trash, it pollutes the environment again in the form of electronic waste. These are just some of the problematic backgrounds of today’s electronics industry. If you are looking for an alternative to this, the second-hand market is the place to go.
The sustainable alternative to buying new is to purchase a used unit. Not only smartphones, tablets and laptops are available on the second-hand market. Smartwatches, cameras and consoles or accessories such as headphones, cables and cases are also offered via online stores. And at significantly lower prices than new goods. Beforehand, all media equipment is checked, cleaned, repaired and refurbished. All data is deleted and the device is reset to the factory settings. In this way, used equipment is resold as good as new, thus extending the life cycle of electronics. The second-hand market makes an important contribution to the circular economy and conserves valuable resources.
The Berlin-based online store rebuy.de was awarded the test mark 2.2 by Stiftung Warentest 2023 as the best provider of refurbished smartphones. The German company was particularly convincing with the high quality of the smartphones on offer.
Refurbed.de offers not only high-quality, used electronics at low prices. For every device sold, the German company plants a tree and thus promotes climate neutrality. Large retailers also offer refurbished products with warranty, such as Amazon Renewed, Ebay Refurbished or B-Ware at Media Markt.
Whether among friends or in online advertising – children and young people are constantly being touted the latest technology. But does it really always have to be the latest gadget? Younger children in particular can get off to a good start with a less expensive second-hand model. The first smartphone offers a good reason to purchase a second-hand device. This means that children and young people do not have to hide or even feel ashamed. Sustainability is in with young people, and quite rightly so! Those who know about the background wear their rescued device with pride and can be role models for their peer group.
It’s best to buy used goods through online retailers rather than private sales. Large stores test and overhaul the equipment and provide it with a warranty. Consider how much money you want to spend and in what used condition you want to buy the electronics. Read the product descriptions carefully and also pay attention to notes such as non-smoking or or pet-free household. Take good care of your devices, save the battery and show your child how to enjoy their devices for a long time. If it is broken beyond repair, dispose of it properly together, for example at the recycling center. In this way, valuable ingredients are put to use again. Does your child really want a new device with the latest features as a birthday gift? Then consider selling the old device together via online trading. This way it stays in the cycle and gets the chance for a second life.
Especially adolescents in puberty want to discover their own sexuality, try themselves out and test how they affect other people. This also happens in the digital space via messenger or social network. We explain what sexting is and what you should watch out for.
So sexting means sending erotic messages, revealing pictures or videos, like pictures in shorts, swimsuit or being completely topless. In doing so, you want to put yourself in the scene as sexy as possible in order to appear attractive to your counterpart. By the way, sexting is not a phenomenon that occurs only among young people. On the contrary, adults send such pictures much more often.
Basically, sexting is not a bad thing: it can be a proof of love, an attempt to impress your crush or simply testing your own impact. However, a fundamental problem arises: relationships between people change. Trust is not always a given. You can’t know what will happen to your own images. For example, images that were sent consensually and in confidence may then be forwarded to others without being asked or without consent.
So sexting itself is not bad, but the misuse of the images by other people is the problem – and can also be punishable. Young people whose images are used are the victims in this case. They are not to be condemned at all.
Educate your child about sexting. Speak frankly and respect privacy yourself of your child. In this way, you can support your child in using digital media safely and responsibly. Help your child develop healthy self-esteem and encourage him or her to confide in an adult if he or she has been harassed, threatened, or a victim of sexting abuse. If this ever happens: Help your child report the abuse and have the relevant material deleted, Explain to your child that he or she did nothing wrong. At www.safer-sexting.de you and your child can get extensive information about what is allowed when sexting, what to watch out for, what to urgently refrain from and where to get support.
The range of video games is now huge, so it’s easy to lose track between, for example, adventure or action games, learning and strategy games, simulations or role-playing games. As a parent, you may feel uneasy about allowing your child to play video games. After all, you always hear that they can be addictive or have other negative effects. But digital games can also serve important functions. As is usually the case with media use, the same applies here: The level and selection of content are crucial for responsible use. Age ratings provide some initial guidance.
Worldwide, Germany has the most binding legal rules for the testing and sale of video games. The protection of minors plays a major role here. Because, as with most entertainment, parents should make sure that video games are safe for the child’s age. The age ratings of the Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body (USK) provide orientation.
For you as a parent, it is important to know that the USK ratings do not inform whether a game is already manageable or understandable for children. Nor do they constitute pedagogical recommendations. The USK age rating indicates whether the game is harmless from the point of view of youth protection, i.e. whether it does not contain any content that is harmful to the respective age group.
These USK labels can be found on every game package, every data carrier and usually at every reputable online store. The following age ratings are available:
Since January 2023, additional information has been provided in addition to the age ratings. These can be found on the back of the game packaging and in the USK title database. The notes provide information about the reasons that led to the age classification (such as “violence”, “pressure to act” or “drugs”). And they indicate which possible aspects of use you should pay attention to (such as “in-game purchases” or chats”). Here, the individual notes are explained in more detail.
For Europe, there is still the age rating of PEGI (Pan European Games Information) with the age levels 3, 7, 12, 16 and 18. Additional symbols indicate whether certain games address scary, violent or sexual content and the like. You can find out more about this at Spieleratgeber NRW.
IARC stands for “International Age Rating Coalition” and is a worldwide system for age rating online games and apps. Since these are becoming more and more important and the Internet knows no national borders, the institutions responsible for age ratings from different countries have joined forces and developed this age rating system. This includes a questionnaire that game developers of online games and game apps can use to independently rate the content of their products. In each country, this information results in a license plate that complies with the youth protection rules in force there. In Germany, this is done by the USK. Therefore, you can find the USK notices on many online platforms that use this system, such as Google Play Store, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store, PlayStation Store, Xbox Store and Meta Quest Store. However, you should not rely on this alone, as the USK only checks the game developers’ self-assessments on a random basis or in response to complaints. Additionally, use game reviews from educational platforms, such as www.spielbar.de or Spielerratgeber NRW.
Observe your child as he or she interacts with the content. There are children who do not yet understand content well, even though they are already suitable according to the age recommendation. There is nothing wrong with that, every child is different and develops differently. Just see if other offers are more suitable.
“Allow all cookies”, “Only 5 left in stock!” – does something like this sound familiar? Maybe you’ve clicked on something while browsing or spent more money while shopping online when you really didn’t mean to. Behind this is a mechanism that deliberately deceives users on websites, in online commerce, in apps and games.
Dark patterns are designed to induce Internet users to take actions that are not in their interest, but work in favor of the provider. This involves working with design principles from graphic design as well as tricks from behavioral psychology. The aim is to obtain personal data from users or to tempt them into excessive purchases of products, subscriptions or contracts. Well-known examples are:
Children and young people also encounter manipulative strategies every day on the Internet. Especially on social media platforms, in apps or video games, they have to deal with hidden information, advertising banners, sales strategies and psychological tricks. The special algorithms and endless feeds of TikTok, Instagram and the like are deliberately designed to keep users in the apps as long as possible. Likes and comments inspire, but also create social pressure. Video games like Fortnite and gaming apps like Coin Master use mechanisms such as unnecessary time pressure, intrusive in-app purchases, and opaque loot boxes, among others. On websites and search engines, it is not always easy to distinguish advertising from content. Younger children in particular do not yet have the experience and maturity to see through Dark Patterns and not be guided by emotions.
Be careful when surfing the Internet, protect your child’s data and encourage your child to use data sparingly. Discuss with your child the conscious use of money and accompany him or her when making first orders or payments online. Educate your child about the mechanics of online advertising and sales tricks on the Internet. Consider the following tips and discuss them with your child:
In addition, solutions from the technical youth media protection can support the safe Internet use of your child, for example, youth protection filters, access restrictions or ad blockers.
Are such strategies allowed at all? Legally, dark patterns operate in a gray area. If you or your child have had a negative experience with it, report it together to the consumer center: verbraucherzentrale.de/beschwerde.